If I needed any reminder of why I’m not a conservative, the bizarre contortions that right-wingers have been putting themselves through lately in opposition to the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision on gay marriage would provide one. Watching this has been almost as much fun as watching the left thrash itself to pieces in a futile attempt to stop the War on Terror.
IsntaPundit points us at Jennifer Roback Morse’s analysis of the issue in National Review Online which he correctly describes as hilarious in a frightening way. It’s full of bloviations about the “natural and organic‘ function of sex and how we’ll all be happier if we adjust our behavior to conform to nature. It further argues that sex is not an individual activity but a social one, deriving much of its importance from the fact that it create and involves communities.
IsntaPundit acidly points out that the “natural and organic” purpose of sex is to recombine genes, and that casual ‘meaningless’ sex of the kind associated in conservative minds with gays and libertines is not just natural and organic but optimal strategy for the 50% of the population that is male. While InstaPundit is correct, he is missing some even more entertaining subtexts.
Conservatives have spent decades lambasting leftist feminists for their claim that the personal is political. They have argued that a world in which feminists and the state claim an ever-encroaching right to reinterpret sexual relationships as power relationships and intervene to ‘equalize’ them is a world slouching towards totalitarianism and the panopticon. Ahhh…but now watch the deft reverse spin as, when a conservative shibboleth is at stake, Ms. Morse suddenly argues that sexual choices are never private!
This whole business about ‘conforming to nature’ is almost funnier, in a bleak way. Exercise for the reader: chase this Google search on the phrase fascism nature organic and discover how very close Ms. Morse is sailing to the reasoning and rhetoric of classical Fascism.
These are the parts that are funny, at least if you get the kind of dark amusement I do from watching right-wingers obligingly behave like every left-wing caricature of conservatism ever cartooned. I would say that National Review Online ought to be ashamed of itself if I actually expected better from them on this issue. Hypocrites. Idiots. Ms. Morse’s reactionary rant is every bit as bad as the poisonous humbug that issues from the mouths of lefties like Robert Fisk or Noam Chomsky.
What’s even more comical is that when you corner a conservative about the consequences of gay marriage, what you’re more likely to hear than not is: “But what if the really icky people, like (gasp) polyamorists, use it as a precedent?” This is very revealing. Conservatives know that the gay lifestyle will never appeal to more than about 5% of the population — the rest of us ain’t got the wiring for it. What really terrifies them is the thought that people in the 95% of the population that is normally heterosexual might get the idea that they, too, could choose plural marriage or other forms of relationship that conservatives think of as ‘unnatural’, and not suffer for it.
But the part that’s really frightening is the argument that is not being made, but which seethes beneath every polished sentence of Ms. Morse’s screed. One cannot read it without sensing that all this namby-pamby “natural and organic” stuff is a thin pseudo-Deist cover; what Ms. Morse really wants to do is scream “IT’S GOD’S LAW AND YOU’LL BURN IN HELL, SINNERS!“. This is the “ancient religious rage” of Margalit and Buruma’s
penetrating essay Occidentalism; fundamentally Ms. Morse is railing against Babylon, and in this she is at one with the hot-eyed Islamists who gave us 9/11.
I must make a point of committing an act that is technically sodomy tonight. Perhaps I should see if I can’t mix with it some blasphemy against the evil authoritarian Nobodaddy-God shared by Islamists and Western conservatives like Ms. Morse. The whiny identity politics of the Queer Nation crowd turn me off, and their buddies in NAMBLA utterly revolt me — but ultimately I have something in common with the gays that I never will with Ms. Morse.
That commonality is the belief that isn’t up to anybody else, feminist or conservative, to tell me and my consenting sexual partners what kind of sex is “natural” or “correct”. “Do it for the chillldren!“ is no more honest or respectable an argument against the liberty of the individual coming from Jennifer Roback Morse than it ever was from Hillary Rodham Clinton. Neither kind of moralism is more than a fig-leaf over the lust for power over others, and that is a lust I will always oppose with my words, my actions, and my weapons.