Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 166g: Mr Smith goes to Chick-fil-A, or, but how can you deny people their right to "marriage equality"? (Doesn't that prove that opponents of the homosexualisation of marriage are bigots equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan and threats to liberty?)

(Series to date: parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.)

In current discourse on social issues, the assertion of a "right" and the demand for fair, "equal" treatment are always powerfully persuasive appeals. 

Indeed, to be seen as an opponent of "rights" and of "equality" makes one seem to be radioactive, comparable to racists and other bigots. 

Which, is precisely why such language is now increasingly hijacked by the unscrupulous and used to manipulate the ill-informed, creating an intensely polarised atmosphere of slanderous demonisation of the other in which clear thinking and sober decision-making are at a severe discount.

So, we have to be very careful indeed to ground  rights and equality, to avoid slander and folly, and to avoid being manipulated by the sort of amoral nihilists Plato warned against 2350 years ago in The Laws, Bk X; whose implicit doctrine is that "the highest right is might." For, surely, the basic premise of rights and justice is just the opposite of the radical relativist notion that might and manipulation of perceptions, emotions and rules makes 'right.'

As a sad illustrative case of the problem, let us pause to see the videotape made by the CFO of Vante Corp of Arizona at a Chick-fil-A and then posted to the Internet, which went viral and cost him his job for playing the bully:

The video makes the slanderous projection of hate clear right from the beginning.  {U/D, Aug 9: This videotaped street exchange outside a Chick-fil-A makes the pattern even more evident.}

Supporters of marriage based on the naturally evident creation order of men and women are projected as "hate groups," and the now former CFO rolls right over the employee's point that per corporate policy she is not in a position to discuss political matters. She tries to be courteous, but he then personalises the matter: how can you work here, for a horrible corporation with horrible values. "I can't stand the hate . . . "

It evidently has not struck Mr Smith that people may have a principled reason for objecting to the unprecedented homosexualisation of marriage, or that people holding low power jobs can work for a corporation that they may or may not fully agree with in order to support their families, or that people may support a company that one disagrees with without being hateful or bigoted. 

(His "apology"/explanation given after his dismissal is further sadly revealing. Evidently, he did not understand that he had improperly threatened the job of the attendant, Rachel -- which easily explains why she would not respond to him when he returned later that day; which must have looked to her and her supervisors very much like potentially violent workplace harassment. Can you imagine what could easily have happened to Ms Rachel and to Chick-fil-A if she had not been very well trained in handling unruly customers and had not been very well disciplined and self-controlled?  Similarly, Mr Smith's misbehaviour (once it was posted to the web) provoked angry voice-mail to -- and, sadly, threats against -- his company and its employees; which clearly precipitated a crisis and issued in his prompt dismissal.)

Something has gone very wrong.

Something, rooted in how we understand key terms like rights, freedom and equality. And, in how discussion of important issues is now routinely twisted into polarisation based on misconceptions of these terms.

The pivotal issue is, plainly, what is a right, and where does it come from?

 As has already been cited in this discussion, Alan Keyes has spoken to this point quite clearly:
In everyday parlance these days, we use the term “right” as though it is synonymous with the freedom to act as we choose. But if the choice is wrong, it makes no sense to assert that the chooser has the right  to act on it  (i.e., has right on his side as he does so.) What someone can do (has the physical capacity or opportunity to do) differs from what they ought to do. This is in fact the rationale for all criminal laws. It’s what allows us to recognize that simply having the opportunity and power to take someone’s life or goods does not grant the right to do so, does not make it right.
In short, there is a confusion between rights and liberty, even taken to the extreme of license; liberty abused by demanding freedom to act without respect for the rights of those who are our equals by nature, having been made in God's image and endowed with the same conscience and inherent worth that we instinctively know for ourselves. Hence the significance of "love thy neighbour as thyself."

This carries us to the heart of the matter: your right implies my duty, i.e. if you have a right to life, liberty, respect for reputation, property, etc., it is because I have a duty of care towards you and thus your life, liberty, reputation, property etc. In short, "I have a right" means, "you OUGHT to respect my right."

Thus, rights imply that OUGHT is real, i.e. we are right back at the question of grounding OUGHT in a worldview foundational IS that can support the weight of ought.

Where also, unfortunately, in our time, the secular humanist, scientistism-driven evolutionary materialism that, flying the flag of science, is so dominant in circles of influence and power, inherently has in it no IS that can adequately ground OUGHT. That is, it is amoral. Which is just what (as was already linked) Plato pointed out 2350 years ago, in highlighting the havoc wreaked by the irresponsible sophists and their avant garde followers in Athens.

Prof. William Provine of Cornell University, pointed out exactly this, in his well-known 1998 Darwin Day keynote address at the University of Tennessee, as he then went on to try to make the best case he could for an ethics of naturalism:

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . 
The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. [--> Notice, this includes that "no ultimate foundaiton for ethics exists"] Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . . Without free will, justification for revenge disappears and rehabilitation is the main job of judicial systems and prisons. [[NB: As C. S Lewis warned, in the end, this means: reprogramming through new conditioning determined by the power groups controlling the society and its prisons.] We will all live in a better society when the myth of free will is dispelled . . . .

In fact, just the opposite is the case. As was pointed out last time, if we are not significantly free and responsible creatures, the credibility of our minds collapses and with it, the grounds for OUGHT. That is why, in critiquing Provine's remarks from a Judaeo-Christian perspective, Christian apologist Kyle Butt brings out a significant implication:

Provine’s . . . [[address] centered on his fifth statement regarding human free will. Prior to delving into the “meat” of his message, however, he noted: “The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them” (Provine, 1998).

It is clear then, from Provine’s comments, that he believes naturalistic evolution has no way to produce an “ultimate foundation for ethics.” And it is equally as clear that this sentiment was so apparent to “modern naturalistic evolutionists” that Mr. Provine did not feel it even needed to be defended . . . . [[However, i]f it is true that naturalistic evolution cannot provide an ultimate foundation for determining the difference between actions that are right and ones that are wrong, then the door is wide open for subjective speculation about all human behavior. [[Rape and Evolution, Apologetics Press, 2005.]

In short, the door now yawns open for outright nihilism with its concept that it is only might and manipulation that make 'right.' Or, as Plato put it in the passage in The Laws, Bk X, that has repeatedly come up:
[To such] the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ --> Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ --> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [ --> such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.
Though he may not personally be an evolutionary materialist, Mr Smith in the case in view (like so many others) is clearly influenced by this line of thought.

But, isn't this just a fight over who has power to determine what marriage is, and shouldn't this be decided by the legal means in our society, so that it's all just politics?


There is something fundamental at stake, and something that is deeper than actions taken under colour of law. For, law in the hands of corrupt or unwise elites and peoples, can itself become unlawful, i.e. unjust and destructive. If slavery and race prejudice can be entrenched in law, then we must always be careful that we could back up injustice or folly with force of law.

But, we are talking about people who love one another, why should we deny them marriage equality? Isn't that all they are asking for?

Nope, it is not.

{U/D Jul 2, 2014} For instance,  let us note what Lesbian activist and Russian-Australian journalist Masha Gessen had to say -- and let us note the applause:

There is a lot at stake here, and much of it is deeper than we commonly imagine.

For, justice is rooted in our nature, and in the end, the strong testimony of our consciences and minds that he have rights that can be violated, implies that there must be a worldview level foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. Evolutionary materialism can only appeal to matter and energy in space and time interacting on forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity, and has no such IS. Cutting to the chase scene [cf. 101 here on], the only serious candidate for such a foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, is the inherently good Creator God who made us in his image and endowed us with rights and responsibilities.

In short, the creation order premise of man and woman in permanent covenantal marital bond as the context for families in which children are to be conceived, born, nurtured and raised, is central to the long-term good of the community. That is why adultery is wrong. It is why divorce is a questionable last resort. It is why fornication is wrong. It is why child abuse is wrong. It is why prostitution and pornography are wrong. It is why polygamy is a distortion of what should be. It is why the community and the state have a legitimate survival interest in promoting and protecting marriage and the family as foundational to viable society. It is why homosexual behaviour is wrong and destructive to good order in the community. And, it is why the attempted homosexualisation of marriage and the closely associated smearing of those who object as hateful bigots are wrong. As well as many other things, "too numerous to mention."

Indeed, the issue is not really marriage equality -- a typically toxic, cleverly loaded talking point created by ruthless propagandists -- but the survival of marriage and our civilisation, which have long since been assaulted and besieged by a large cluster of destructive errors and wrongs. That is why Girgit, George and Anderson are right to say, in their pivotal Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy paper:
[T]he current debate is precisely over whether it is possible for the kind of union that has marriage’s essential fea‐tures to exist between two people of the same sex. Revisionists do not propose leaving intact the historic definition of marriage and simply expanding the pool of people eligible to marry. Their goal is to abolish the conjugal conception of marriage in our law 10 and replace it with the revisionist [--> i.e. homosexualised] conception . . .

F/N 10: Throughout history, no society’s laws have explicitly forbidden gay mar‐riage. They have not explicitly forbidden it because, until recently, it has not been thought possible . . . [T]raditional marriage laws  were not devised to oppress those with same‐sex attractions. The comparison [to racist anti-miscegenation laws that forbade inter-racial marriages]  is offensive, and puzzling to many—not least to the nearly two‐thirds of black vot‐ers who voted to uphold conjugal marriage under California Proposition Eight. See Cara Mia DiMassa & Jessica Garrison, Why Gays, Blacks are Divided on Prop. 8, L.A. TIMES, Nov. 8, 2008, at A1.
 [Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, & Ryan T. Anderson, "What is Marriage?" Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol 34, No. 1, p. 250 of 245 - 287.]
Two men or two women simply are out of alignment with the naturally obvious creation order for marriage, and the attempt to entrench this as "equal" by force of law, will simply enshrine destructive error and through slander will foster the unjust oppression of people of principle and conscience who object, under false colours of law.

That is what is actually at stake, and it is what we will have to either soberly and calmly address now and back away from folly, or else its consequences are what we will have to live with in coming years, as our civilisation walks down a road to ruin. 

As for the notion that this is a matter of love that trumps all else, Alan Keyes made the point quite clear in his correction to former US First Lady Mrs Barbara Bush on the matter:

Alan Keyes, in responding to former US First Lady Barbara Bush, remarks:
. . . isn’t love the foundation of marriage? Why should some loving couples enjoy legal recognition and privileges that are denied to others?
But the plausible conviction that loving homosexual couples “ought to have…the same sort of rights that everyone has” immediately runs afoul of the simple fact that homosexuals are not the only loving couples without the legal right to marry. Parents and their children don’t have it. Siblings don’t have it. Children not yet of legal age don’t have it; and so on. In principle, all such people are capable of forming loving, committed relationships. By the logic Mrs. Bush relies on, “they ought to have… the same sort of rights that everyone has.”
In short, once we see obvious exceptions to a suggested "rule" like that, something is fundamentally wrong with the rule. What is it? Keyes continues:
Why are parents and their children forbidden to marry one another? Cut to the chase and the answer is simple. The right to marry includes legal recognition (legitimization) of the married couple’s right to have sexual relations with one another. But it is wrong for parents to have sexual relations with their children. It’s wrong for siblings to have sexual relations with each other. It’s wrong for adults to have sexual relations with underage children. Obviously, unless Mrs. Bush means to argue that these restrictions are unjustified, a committed loving relationship is not enough to establish that people “ought to have” the right to marry.
He then digs in further, addressing the pivotal term, "ought":
Mrs. Bush’s use of the word “ought” deserves further attention. The difference between what people do and what people ought to do is a matter of moral judgment. The word “ought” implies the application of a moral standard, a rule or principle that distinguishes right from wrong. People ought to do what is right. They ought not to do what is wrong. When people do what is right, they have the right to act (i.e., have right on their side as they act.) But can the same be said of those who do what is wrong?
He then points to a key breakdown triggered by the modern confusion of liberty and license -- the abuse of freedom:
In everyday parlance these days, we use the term “right” as though it is synonymous with the freedom to act as we choose. But if the choice is wrong, it makes no sense to assert that the chooser has the right  to act on it  (i.e., has right on his side as he does so.) What someone can do (has the physical capacity or opportunity to do) differs from what they ought to do. This is in fact the rationale for all criminal laws. It’s what allows us to recognize that simply having the opportunity and power to take someone’s life or goods does not grant the right to do so, does not make it right.
In short, until the moral legitimacy of homosexual conduct is solidly grounded (and until the harmlessness of such a legislative -- or, these days, often, a judicial -- act is sufficiently shown), we have a perfect right to question the notion that our civilisation's states should take the step of legitimising homosexual relationships as marriages under the law. Which of course is a very big question indeed, and one on which all serious voices have a right to be heard. Including, those who look to the truly great religious teachers of mankind, as proved moral instructors.
Plainly, falling in love can become a temptation to sin (the case of Amnon and Tamar being a sad classic with devastating consequences for a whole nation), and so even in the face of the feelings of love, we must consult the principles of what we ought to do. For, we are ensouled, en-conscienced, morally governed creatures, not mere beasts acting at the whims of our impulses and hormones.

Let us stop and rethink, even at the brink of the abyss. END

F/N: Huffington Post gives a transcript of the exchange:

 Smith: "You know why I'm getting my free water, right?"
Worker: "No."
S: "Because Chick-Fil-A is a hateful corporation."
W: "I disagree. We don't treat any of our customers differently.."
S: "I know, but the corporation gives money to hate groups. Hate groups. Just because people want to kiss another guy."
W: "I'm staying neutral on this subject... my personal beliefs don't belong in the workplace."
S: "Yeah I believe that too, I don't believe corporations should be giving money to hateful groups.. I'll take my water"
W: "I'm really uncomfortable that you're videotaping this.."
W: "It's my pleasure to serve you, always."
S: "Oh of course, I'm glad that I can take a little bit of money from Chick-Fil-A, and maybe less money to hate groups."
W: "Well we're always happy to serve all our guests."
S: "I don't know how you live with yourself and work here. I don't understand it. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values. You deserve better."
W: "I hope you have a really nice day, and.."
S: "I will, I just did something really good, I feel purposeful, thank you so much."
S: "Have a good day... I'm a nice guy by the way, and I'm totally heterosexual.. not a gay [unintelligible] in me, I just can't stand the hate, you know? It's gotta stop, guys. Stand up."