The Supreme Court’s Diktat on Marriage

Wedding in Delhi

I was on vacation all last week.  Thankfully, I was able to avoid the internet most of the time.  I heard about the Supreme Court’s edict on marriage in passing, during a layover at JFK Airport yesterday.

Also yesterday, the Federalist published my article “Fifteen Reasons Why Marriage Equality is about Neither Marriage Nor Equality.”  It’s my little compendium of overlooked realities and my expectations for what the future holds.  In short, we can expect the State to meddle a lot more heavily in all of our personal relationships as a result of this ruling.

No doubt the Court’s action is a major watershed moment in the transformation of American law. But for those of us who have been pondering the same sex marriage trend line for about 20 years, this whimsical ruling comes as no surprise.

That’s not only because of the abuses of power by the Judicial branch (especially the corrupt nature of Justice Kennedy and similar infections in Justice Roberts) but mostly because there’s been too much brokenness in society — all around us — to sustain laws that protect family stability. Consider how Roe v. Wade dictated to all of us that the State must regard all unborn children as completely non-human.  This knowledge alone doubtless has damaged the psyches of many children growing up post-Roe.  Consider also how no-fault divorce allows children’s homes to be busted up at whim, forcing them to do the shuttling, forcing them to put up or shut up.  And consider how the epidemic of fatherlessness has broken the lives of youth.  With artificial reproductive technologies and same sex marriage, the law can now impose by design both fatherlessness and motherlessness on children.  In the end, it looks and feels not only like a war waged against the intact, organic family, but also against all personal relationships.  After all, the family is the default starting point for building true community.

All of these developments have created a heightened sense of separation anxiety and profound loneliness in society.  K12 and college education have piled on, saturating us with political correctness and the cultivation of ignorance, which further prevents anyone from building relationships that might help them learn how to navigate through all of this confusion.  This has softened the ground for the social engineering that’s been taking place under the convenient mask of “marriage equality.”  We really need first to look with fresh eyes at all of the dismantling and machinations that lay behind us before we can meet the challenges ahead.  The task is daunting, but it all comes with the territory of our human condition.  (I hope to write more on this in the future.)

Let’s also not forget that central planners have always targeted the organic family.  Utopians regard family bonds of loyalty as a thorn in their side and an obstacle to building a centralized state.  Totalitarians always demand state loyalty above any other kind. This may be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true.  History is filled with examples.

So, at the end of my “15 Reasons” piece linked above, I end with the reasonable question:  “What will the authorities decide to do to dissenters?”   We should persist in asking them this question directly, as much as possible.

We’re Being Set up to Cede the Right to Know our Origins

When children are separated from their biological parents, they are gravely wounded. Sure, they can develop coping mechanisms.  But they suffer a primal wound that cannot and should not be ignored.   I think the more we disregard the bond of child to mother and father, the more we devolve as a society into grave injustice towards children.  And it doesn’t matter if a woman agrees to donate her egg or if a man happily donates his sperm or if a surrogate contracts to give up a child in exchange for money or for any other reason.  The child will experience any such act as a loss.  We need to stop looking at children as commodities to satisfy adult desires.  If we keep hurtling down this path of human separation — separation that has roots in no fault divorce, the sexual revolution and abortion on demand — we will all end up enslaved by a bureaucratic state.

From “Anti-Slavery Almanac,” 1840

So today I recommend you read some recent documents that have historic significance.  They are amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court written by adult children from same sex households, in opposition to same sex marriage.  They are writers and scholars who understand – from their unique perspective of being severed from a birth parent and deliberately deprived of an opposite sex parent– that children have an inherent right to know their origins wherever possible.  When deprived of the love and knowledge of a birth parent, it’s a loss and a scar that doesn’t go away.

Here’s the reality: same sex marriage absolutely requires that the state accept and encourage the separation of children from their biological parents.  This is the trajectory it puts us on, even if we don’t quite feel its effects on society just yet.

Three amicus briefs were filed by six defenders of marriage. Dawn Stefanowicz and Denise Shick filed jointly here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/ObergefellHodges/AmicusBriefs/14-556_Dawn_Stefanowicz_and_Denise_Shick.pdf

Heather Barwick and Katy Faust filed jointly here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/ObergefellHodges/AmicusBriefs/14-556_Heather_Barwick_and_Katy_Faust.pdf

Robert Oscar Lopez and BN Klein filed jointly here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/ObergefellHodges/AmicusBriefs/14-556_Robert_Oscar_Lopez_and_BN_Klein.pdf

This is the primary question before the Court:

Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

Professor Lopez argues persuasively that same sex marriage is on a collision course with the natural rights of children.  The Fourteenth Amendment should more appropriately be applied to children in this case.  Otherwise, it severs them from the right to know their origins, and does so without due process.  Here’s an excerpt from Lopez’s brief:

The Court should refer to the Fourteenth Amendment clause about equal protection of the laws, in order to uphold laws that define marriage as only male-female. In upholding such laws the Court would ensure that citizens with gay parents have equal protection both as minors and as adults, and that such citizens will not be estranged from their father or mother without due process.

In truth it is gay marriage that will create a suspect class of children targeted for the denial of essential civil and human rights. Gay marriage will allow adults to acquire custody of other people’s children and deny those children connections to their original mother and father. Other problems flow from this initial denial of the basic human right to be connected to one’s origins. What the Court must weigh now is the competing application of the Fourteenth Amendment to two distinct classes: [a] gay and lesbian couples who want children, and on the other hand, [b] COGs. [children of gays]

It really looks like we are all being set up to cede our rights to know our parents and our origins.

On Self-Reliance, Kids, Willie Mays, and Blasting Caps

Below is an old public service announcement in which baseball legend Willie Mays helps kids build awareness of the dangers of blasting caps (dynamite detonators) that they might come across while playing.  The 1950’s was a time when children played more freely outdoors than they do today.   Back then the answer to the problem of unattended blasting caps was to teach kids safety.  Not to tell parents to shelter them indoors and supervise them in their play 24/7.

This Willie Mays spot is astonishing in so many ways.  It illustrates that kids back then were far more independent and self-reliant than today.  We’ve fallen quite a ways in helping kids learn to navigate life.  Last week I wrote about this in the Federalist here: “Kids are Casualties in the War Against Self-Reliance.”

Constant hovering over kids to protect them teaches them dependence, not self-reliance. And the helicopter-parenting trend seems to correlate with a society that’s grown overly dependent on government.  It also correlates with a consumerist society that seems to indulge in excessive doses of passive entertainment from ever-present electronic devices.  Too many have forgotten that the process of growing up is really a process of controlled risk taking.  If we delay children from learning life skills when they are ready to learn them, we stunt their growth as well as their ability to pass those skills on to the next generation.  It creates a vacuum and it promotes a social climate more tolerant of a State that ever more aggressively monitors parents and families.

I wrote about the case of two very attentive Maryland parents who have been harassed by child protective services for allowing their children to walk home from a park unattended.   The kids were eager and ready to do so and had permission from their parents, but no matter.  As government grows, we will see more meddling in the parent-child relationship.  There is a connection between allowing parents to raise self-reliant kids and maintaining a free society.

Okay, we’re living in a big fat nanny state. That’s a euphemism, though. The reality is that central planners have always viewed a child’s first teachers of self-reliance—mothers and fathers—as enemies of the State. The less people learn about basic life skills (think thrift or basic survival) and how things work, the better it is for the bureaucratic tyranny. We ought to keep this in mind every time someone questions our right to think for ourselves or exercise self-reliance.

 

Bookcase: “The Rape of the Mind” by Joost A. M. Meerloo

Joost A. M. Meerloo, M. D. (1903-1976) Author of “The Rape of the Mind”

If you fear we’re living in an age of mass delusion — as do I — then you must read this extraordinary book by Dutch psychiatrist Joost A. M. Meerloo.  “The Rape of the Mind” is subtitled:  “The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing.”  Had it it seen more light of day since it was published in 1956, it may well have served as inoculation against political correctness and groupthink.

Free speech is essential to preventing mass delusion.  Meerloo wrote: “Where thinking is isolated without free exchange with other minds, delusion may follow.”  He adds, chillingly, “Is this not what happened in Hitler Germany where free verification and self-correction were forbidden?”

Meerloo’s writing shows immense compassion for our human frailties.  He understood just how difficult it is to push back against the social pressures to conform.  But push back we must.   Meerloo’s first line of the foreward reads:

“This book attempts to depict the strange transformation of the free human mind into an automatically responding machine.”

We should tremble at the fact that he wrote that back in 1956.  Below is a bit of a synopsis.

Part I “The Techniques of Individual Submission” describes how human beings can be conditioned to do just about anything.  Part II “The Techniques of Mass Submission” explores how totalitarian thinking gets rooted, how man becomes “robotized,” and how demagogues use fear, emotional blackmail, and “semantic fog” to mobilize masses.  Part III “Unobtrusive Coercion” is perhaps the most fascinating of all the fascinating sections. In it, Meerloo provides his theory as to how totalitarians can be “molded” literally from the nursery. He delves into mental contagion and mass delusion and the primal human fear of isolation.  He describes the coercive creep of technology and its paradoxes.  Ditto the bureaucratic mind.  Finally, Part IV “In Search of Defenses” is a welcomed prescription on how to fight back.

Before humans can preserve true freedom, we must first be aware of our inner contradictions:

“Democracy, by its very nature will always have to fight against dictatorship from without and destructiveness from within.  Democratic freedom has to battle against both the individual’s inner will to power and his urge to submit to other people … Essentially, democracy means the right to develop yourself and not to be developed by others.  Yet to develop yourself is impossible without the duty of giving your energy and attention to the development of others.”

In the end, freedom truly depends upon friendship.  (You can read a great article on that here.) After all, political correctness is primarily a tool for separating people.  Clearly, our narcissistic society is oblivious to this. But for me, “The Rape of the Mind” cracks the code. It is a must read for our times.

Utopia and Terror are Inevitably Linked. North Korea is Proof.

“Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century.” You won’t regret ordering these lectures. They’re superb

Do you have an idea about what constitutes the “perfect society?”  As you imagine your utopia, you’ll realize that there is one absolutely mandatory ingredient: Universal Compliance.

Aye, there’s the rub.

From time immemorial, all attempts at Utopia have required terror to put down dissent, whether active or passive.  You can get a grasp of the history and the scope of all of this in a superb series of lectures called “Utopia and Terror in the Twentieth Century,” by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius.  They’re available from The Great Courses, and are engaging and filled with astonishing connections in human history.

My take is this:  As long as human beings are unique, as long as even one of them thinks independently of others, Utopia is a total pipe dream.  Compliance must be forced.  Or human beings must cease to be human by giving up their uniqueness.  Either way, what you end up with is something that always morphs into dystopia.

In a dystopia people usually take one of two routes:  1) They are unsettled and self-censoring as they battle “living within the Lie,” as Vaclav Havel wrote. Or 2) they simply become automated and content to live a machine-like existence.  Nothing utopian about either alternative. So the whole idea of utopia is self-refuting.  At least for humans.

Which brings us to a regime like North Korea.  Just look a little bit at the video above in which its citizens wept hysterically over the announcement of Kim Jong-Il’s death three years ago.  What does this tell you?  Its citizens are utterly dependent upon the government and have psychologically succumbed to the Cult of Personality.  Out of fear and conformity and compliance, they ape one another in their grief, which is in one sense real and in another sense not real — not natural –at all.  It suggests total psychological isolation of people who cannot freely associate. Slaves. I’m especially amazed watching from 1:19-1:25, two youth are standing behind the man who is in paroxysms of wailing.  They aren’t sure what to do, but looking around they realize they are *supposed* to get down on their knees.  So they do.

Earlier this week Sony bowed to that regime’s pressure not to release the movie “The Interview” because it was offensive to Kim Jong-Un’s regime.  Setting aside the whole issue of cowardice on the part of Sony, let’s focus on why North Korea would go so far as to conduct a cyberwar to get Sony to back down.

Suggesting the Supreme Leader could be assassinated?  Well, yeah, there’s that.  But it goes even deeper.  The movie (which doesn’t look to be a very good one, anyway) disrupts the North Korean narrative that it’s achieved Perfection rather than the institutionalized slavery of all of its people.  Such regimes are always subject to any straw that could break their back since their whole existence is built on a lie that will collapse under its own weight.

 

 

 

 

 

Strange-Bedfellow Politics of “The Hunger Games”

In today’s Federalist I have an article that examines how people of different political stripes have enthusiastically embraced the “The Hunger Games.” Below you can watch the trailer for the third movie in the series entitled “Mockingjay, Part I,” which was released last month.  (There will be a fourth and final film next year.)

Click here to read “The Strange-Bedfellow Politics of the Hunger Games.”  Both liberals and conservatives have enthusiastically embraced the movies, which are based upon a trilogy of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins.  It’s set in a dystopian society in which youth are chosen by lottery to fight in brutal gladiator style “hunger games” that entertain the ruling class.

The political left views it all as a tale of socio-economic inequality, police brutality, and environmental pollution. Resistance for them means uprisings like “Occupy Wall Street” the unrest in Ferguson, movements which it seems the makers of the film hope to encourage.  But conservatives see in the “Hunger Games” a strong warning against unchecked centralized power, i.e., Big Government.

Most interesting to me is the chagrin and shock of some on the left – most notably Donald Sutherland who plays the evil President Snow – to discover that conservatives, including the Tea Party, love the story as a warning against policies of the left that grow centralized power.

But why should this be a shock?  It seems everybody ought to know that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  But apparently not.  So how did this interpretive divide happen?

I think the answer lies in what we euphemistically call political correctness.  By silencing people who disagree with the politically correct line, advocates of PC have essentially cut off civil discourse. PC serves to isolate and polarize people so much that there are no avenues for mutual understanding.  Only mutual vilification.  So, in the end, PC only serves centralized power and big government, what Carl Jung refers to as “the mass State.”

I discussed some of this in my previous post quoting Carl Jung.  The silencing of dissent has got to stop.  If we continue to tolerate it we’re at risk of descending into a dystopia ourselves.

 

Licensing Parents?

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/16/Phenylketonuria_testing.jpg/1024px-Phenylketonuria_testing.jpg“Imagine you cannot raise your own child without special permission from the state. In this matrix, getting permission means getting a license. And getting a license means the state performs psychological evaluations and background checks and passes judgment on your fitness to be a parent.”

The above is an excerpt  from my Federalist essay today:  “Licensing Parents: A Statist Idea in Libertarian Drag.”   In it I focus on an article I read recently, entitled “Licensing Parents,” which was written by an academic named Andrew Cohen and appeared on a website that claims to be libertarian and run by several pretty well established academics whose slogan is “free markets and social justice.”   Though it ran a couple of years ago, I thought it noteworthy to see the whole concept of children as state property dressed up as a libertarian idea. My article today did not discuss a piece on the same topic which ran last month in Wired:  “It’s Time to Reconsider Restricting Human Breeding,” by Zoltan Istvan.   I hope to get to that later.

I expect to see more of a drumbeat on the idea of licensing parents as the government takes over more and more functions of the family.  (The best friends these programs have may be folks who claim to be for limited government.) Along with those policies comes a watering down — and basically a takeover — of all of our personal relationships by the State.  Naturally, it starts with the takeover of the family.  We can no longer write off such ideas as “wacky” since we live in an era of particularly implausible and wacky government policies now coming to fruition. So please read, digest, and fight on.

With Big “Borg” Government, Resistance isn’t Futile. Submission is Futile.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Star Trek, but I’m fascinated with one of its stock villains “The Borg.” The Borg is a collectivist hive mind that goes through the universe, sucking in everyone in its path, erasing individual identity.   Up at the Federalist today is my essay about the dangers of big government, with my take on the Borg:  “The Government is the Borg and Resistance Isn’t Futile.” Click here to read it in full.

The Borg’s stated goal is utopian: to “achieve perfection.”  It greets its victims by saying “Resistance is futile.”  Sounds a little bit like how bureaucracies work.   My point is that whenever power gets too unchecked, too unbalanced, too centralized, it’s on a trajectory to abuse that power.  And the ultimate destination if left unchecked seems always to be imposition of death.  That’s just a fact of history and a fact of life.

I wish everyone would become familiar with two fascinating studies that have been done on the dangers of centralized power.  The first is the book Death by Government, by R J Rummel (d. 2014) His central point — echoing Lord Acton’s famous quote that  “power corrupts” — is that power kills and absolute power kills absolutely.  Rummel spent much of his career compiling statistics of 20th century death tolls from government abuses of power.  The bottom line?  169 million lives lost through government killing of its own people.  How does this compare with all the casualties — both military and civilian — of all the wars and conflicts of the 20th century? 38 million.   Death by government was more than four times more lethal than all the wars of the 20th century combined.

The second study is a course entitled “Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century” in which University of Tennessee Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius draws the direct connection between master plans for Utopian societies and the terror that is always required to push those utopian programs forward. (You can obtain this series of  very engaging lectures from thegreatcourses.com.) Seems utopian dreamers have no patience or tolerance for any kind of resistance whether active or passive.

I think the best defense is for everyone to champion their own individuality with the understanding that other people matter.  That’s the whole basis of de-centralized power. Speak your mind thoughtfully, with the understanding that free speech is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Cultivate friendships. Reach out in goodwill, one on one and face to face.  And be of good cheer.  Solid relationships are the best bulwark against state power.  A sense of humor always comes in very handy, too.

In the end, it is not resistance that is futile.  Submission is what really kills us all in the end.  Submission is futile.

 

“The Abilene Paradox:” Saying “Yes” when You’d Rather say “No”

The other day we saw how Solomon Asch’s conformity experiments, showed that people will deny what they see with their own eyes when under social pressure.   But what happens if the group pressure is not flatly stated, but only perceived  pressure?  Pretty much the same thing.   Watch the clip below of “The Abilene Paradox,” an organizational  training film based on the book by Jerry B. Harvey, professor of management at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Professor Harvey was trying to figure out why organizations so often ended up making decisions against their own self interest. Click here for a link to his book about this, which is a parable based on his own personal life experience.  His experience was a very uncomfortable family trip 50+ miles away in a hot car in the blazing hot 100+ degree Texan heat just to have supper at a cafeteria in Abilene that no one felt like going to.  The father only made the suggestion because he assumed that’s what everyone else wanted to do. He had no interest himself.  But they, in turn, assumed this was his wish and so all voiced agreement when not a single one of them wanted to go.  You’ll see a couple of other examples in the trailer.  A research and development guy who’s been tasked with “Project X:” making jet fuel out of peanut oil; and a young man and woman at the altar who don’t really want to get married to one another.

So when we do not want to embark on a course of action, why do we so easily agree to do so? And why don’t we at least communicate our disagreement?  Seems we just don’t want to rock the boat. Jerry Harvey’s conclusion is that human beings are always trying to spare themselves the pain of “anaclitic depression” or separation anxiety: Feeling cast out, unwanted, isolated.  It’s as though we’re always in survival mode when these defenses kick in.

The irony is that the human fear of social isolation runs so deep that we will navigate a huge portion of our lives around it and constantly make assumptions — often false — about what other people believe without really knowing.  In fact, you can know someone for years thinking they disagree with your views only to find out later he was on board with you with just about every issue.  But we never know if we don’t talk to people.  Do we?

Instead of acting on our assumptions , we ought to verify those perceptions more often.

The Abilene Paradox is another good lesson about how political correctness uses this human weakness.  By reinforcing this fear of isolation, people are less likely to get to know one another and exchange ideas.  Political correctness promotes this isolation so that open communication doesn’t get in the way of pushing PC agendas, and more folks can be nudged into agreement despite any misgivings they may have.

How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State

Have you noticed a recent push to keep single people single?  It’s out there.  Click here for my latest essay at The Federalist:  “How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State.”  It  examines advice given across the board to all single working class mothers:  “Don’t get married.”  Specifically, a recent article at Slate, co-authored by two feminist legal scholars, states that single mothers should “Just say no” to marriage.

So what’s with that?  Of course marriage is a choice and it’s impossible to discern whether or not the choice is a good one without knowing all of the  details and circumstances in any given case.  But the Slate piece comes down almost as a manifesto claiming that these moms ( never mind their children) are better off going it alone.

But if we step back, we can see a bigger picture emerging.  It’s as though individuals in our society are being nudged today towards isolation, away from human companionship that is autonomous and real — and pushed into a sterile form of “community” in which the state calls all of the shots in our lives.  Perhaps that’s why it seems those pushing big government agendas seem unfriendly — and even hostile — towards strong personal relationships.

Here’s an excerpt from the Federalist piece:

Strong relationships are about teamwork:  real communication, real cooperation, real trust, and real fellowship.  How might individuals seek to cultivate these things?  They can, you know, if government gets out of the way.  And teamwork is about self-sacrifice, which is a dirty word these days.  Yes, strong relationships may be difficult to produce.  But that’s what makes them strong.  The blacksmith analogy is apt:  the tempering of the iron in the fire – as with a relationship through trials — will give it shape and strength.

But the really dirty little secret statists would rather you not know is this:  strong relationships of mutual self-sacrifice yield the greatest prosperity of every kind – spiritual, emotional, and material – for everyone.

The hunger for strong family relationships will persist.  Social engineers can only offer weak “communitarian” relationships as cheap imitations for the real thing, which, in the end, is real, human love.