here are two data points on the slide we are going down.
here is the opening, but go read it all.
What happens when judicial arrogance becomes so habitual as to become second nature? This past Friday, April 3, the Supreme Court of Iowa provided an answer: judicial arrogance transforms into smug self-deception. This is not the question the court thought it was answering. It claimed to be addressing the question of whether “exclusion of a class of Iowans from civil marriage”—namely the “class” of “gay and lesbian people” who wish to marry others of the same sex—can be justified by the state. But the opinion for a unanimous court in Varnum v. Brien, written by Justice Mark Cady, actually says very little about matters of such justification. By contrast, it speaks volumes about the extent to which American judicial power, having burst free of all constraints, is now in the grip of a banal routinization of tyranny so complete that the tyrants do not recognize their own character as they blandly overturn many centuries of civilization in a day’s work
the phrase that I bolded says it all. and it leads right into the other data point courtesy of Jonah Goldberg.
Rod Dreher talks about the cultural shift that has occurred which makes possible the “banal routinization of tyranny so complete that the tyrants do not recognize their own character” as tyrants.
But the Linkers have one great rhetorical advantage: In our culture, the framework for these arguments favors secular liberalism.
As James Kalb explains in his important new book, The Tyranny of Liberalism -which, despite the red-meat title, is an intellectually invigorating read – liberalism “has become an immensely powerful social reality,” one so dominant “that it has become invisible.”
“To oppose it in any basic way is to act incomprehensibly, in a way explicable, it is thought, only by reference to irrationality, ignorance or evil,” Kalb writes. “The whole of the nonliberal past is comprehensively blackened. Traditional ways are presented as the simple negation of unquestionable goods liberalism favors.”
Chief among those goods is the defining idea of modern liberalism, which Kalb calls “equal freedom.” That is, liberalism’s social goal is to maximize both equality and freedom. How does it propose to do that in a world that is to some degree both unequal and unfree? Through social engineering.
Go read both articles above. Then ponder how they are related to the Newsweek story on the Decline of Christian America that I linked to below.
The cultural conversation has shifted in such a way that to say the truths of scripture out loud is to negate the “unquestionable goods that liberalism favors.” Any conversation that begins with “truth” as an absolute value instead of a subjective one is already outside of acceptable discourse. The subjectivity of everything that surrounds us is overwhelming.
Again, just data points. the question remains. what do we do? what do we say? how do we conduct ourselves in the midst of the flood?
here is the conclusion from Matthew Franck that is probably the most depressing part of the article.
All of this escapes the Iowa justices, whose view seems to be that if a moral argument finds support in any religious commitment, then the promulgation of that argument in law is a violation of the principle of religious disestablishment. This is logically fallacious, historically illiterate, and politically brutish. Recall that juxtaposed with this unremitting hostility to religiously-supported morality is an embrace of the morality of desire. Yet in the Iowa court’s view, religion is itself reduced to mere “feeling,” and so the justices wind up incoherently privileging one kind of feeling over another. Those who desire to marry win out over those who desire to “exclude” them from marrying, and that’s that.
Lost from view is the true ground of our common public morality: reasoned judgment about the natures of things and the good of human persons, families, and communities. About such matters, religion can be instructive (to say the least), while a mere desire to “affirm” our “relationships” cannot be. And so, in both its reductive approach to religion and its empty invocations of feelings, the Iowa Supreme Court has done an injustice to religion, to the possibility of lawful public morality, and—yes—to our relationships themselves.
“and that’s that.” indeed.