High school cheerleaders must now cheer for girls' teams as often as for boys' teams thanks to federal education officials' interpretations of Title IX, the civil rights law that mandates equal playing fields for both sexes. According to The New York Times, almost no one directly involved wants this -- not the cheerleaders, not the fans, not the boys' teams, and not even the girls' teams. But it doesn't matter: The law coerces cheerleaders to cheer at girls' games.
Of all the myths that surround Left-Right differences, one of the greatest is that the Left values liberty more than the Right. Regarding a small handful of behaviors -- abortion is the best example -- this is true. But overwhelmingly, the further left one goes on the political spectrum, the greater the advocacy of more state control of people's lives.
That is why, with the exception of Nazism -- which was an acronym for National Socialism but, rightly or wrongly, because it was race- and nationalism-based and because it allowed private enterprise, Nazism has been generally considered a far-right, not far-left, doctrine -- nearly all totalitarianism of the 20th century was on the Left.
By definition, the moment one crosses from center to left, one accepts more government control of people's lives. Therefore, the further left society moves, the more there is government control over its citizens' lives. It is astonishing that this obvious fact is not universally acknowledged and that the Left has somehow successfully portrayed itself as preoccupied with personal liberty with regard to anything except sexual behavior and abortion.
Taxation is an obvious example. It is difficult to imagine greater government control of a person's life than forcing the person to give half or more of his honorably earned money to the state under threat of being imprisoned. All rational people acknowledge the need for taxes -- who other than the state should pay for police, roads and national defense, and serve as the last resort for the truly helpless? But all rational people should equally acknowledge that the greater percentage of one's money the state forcefully confiscates, the less liberty the individual has.
But the single greatest example is law. The means by which the state exerts control over the individual is law. As with taxes, the more laws, the less individual liberty. And just as rational people acknowledge the need for taxation, all rational people appreciate society's need for laws. But just as taxes increase the further left one moves, so, too, the number of laws passed increases.
As liberalism has moved left in the past 50 years, there has been a veritable explosion of legislation. That is why the mainstream, i.e., liberal, news media, characterize local, state and federal legislatures as successes or failures based on the number of laws the legislature has passed. The worst legislature is one that repeals laws, and the next to worst is a "do-nothing" Congress or state legislature, in other words, one that has not passed enough new laws.
There are many reasons for the liberal/progressive/Left's adoration of laws. Three of them are:
1. Most activists on the Left believe that they, not only their values, are morally superior to their adversaries. Therefore, coercing people to adhere to "progressive" values is morally acceptable, even demanded. It is thus quite understandable that laws would compel high school cheerleaders to cheer at girls' athletic events as much as at boys'. And true to leftist totalitarian models, not only is behavior is coerced, but emotions as well. As The New York Times article reported, "a statewide group of physical education teachers in California called for cheerleaders to attend girls' and boys' games 'in the same number, and with equal enthusiasm' as part of its five-year goals." It is Orwellian, but not inconceivable, that either the California legislature or a California judge will require "equal enthusiasm" from cheerleaders at the girls' games.
2. "Progressives" are often unsuccessful in competing in the marketplace of ideas. Same-sex marriage and affirmative action are two contemporary examples. And when persuasion fails, laws are used. If you can't convince, coerce.
3. The more secular the society, the more laws are needed to keep people in check. When more people feel accountable to God and moral religion, fewer laws need to be passed. But as religion fades, something must step into the moral vacuum it leaves, and laws compelling good behavior result.
Unlike the nearly contemporaneous French Revolution, which affirmed "egalite" along with "liberte," the American Revolution never held equality equal to liberty. The Founders knew that you cannot have both, and so, the further left one moves, i.e., the more like France and Western Europe we become, the more coerced equality and the less personal liberty we will have.
Now even high school cheerleaders know that.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”