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Extremism in Defense of Equality

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The more often liberals speak on the topic of same-sex marriage, the more illogical their arguments become. Of course, the worst arguments come from liberal professors because they talk about the subject to the point of obsession. And the worst of the worst come from English professors steeped in postmodern orthodoxy. A recent letter to the editor by North Carolina English professor Dick Veit is illustrative. Dick writes the following (in italics). I respond intermittently. Students considering a major in English at a secular university should read his words carefully:

If you can’t claim that your own marriage would be hurt by a gay couple getting married (and you can’t), and if you can’t point to anyone at all whose marriage would be harmed (and you can’t), then you can’t claim that marriage would be harmed.

Dick Veit shows the narrow-mindedness of same-sex marriage proponents in three ways. First, he falsely asserts that there are only two arguments against same-sex marriage. Next, he asserts that the burden of proof is on his opponents. Finally, he asserts that the arguments he selects cannot possibly be proved. He omits the best arguments against same-sex marriage. Fortunately, in the next line of his letter, he opens the door for one of those arguments:

If you would deny a right to others that you claim for yourself, you cannot say that you believe in liberty.

I hope this means that Dick will now support a man’s right to determine whether his child will be aborted. But that is not what he means. He means that proponents of traditional marriage must extend marriage rights to same-sex couples or, alternately, forfeit their right to say they believe in liberty. The argument is problematic because it knows no limitations. It falsely equates liberty with absolute liberty. Consider some extensions of Veit’s argument:

*If you support marriage between a man and another man, you must also support marriage between a man and another man and a woman or, alternately, forfeit the right to say you believe in liberty.

*If you support marriage between a man and another man and a woman, you must also support marriage between a man and another man and two women or, alternately, forfeit the right to say you believe in liberty.

The possibilities are endless. Eventually, one ends up supporting a marital union between two twin sisters, a dog, and a four-year old – just so he can say “I believe in liberty!”

The trouble all begins with Veit making the obvious error of asking “Is it free?” without asking the follow-up question “Is it good?” That is precisely how he winds up in the untenable position of promoting equality among unequal entities. In the final analysis, Veit is left with the dubious honor of joining a very small club I call the We Can Say We Believe in Equality So We Must Be Morally Superior Society.

Unfortunately, Dick has left the rest of society with an all-encompassing definition of family that simply does not work. For example, there can be no workable body of family law if there are no restrictions on what we call “family.” That it is unworkable is not an issue for Dick. He lives in a world of ideas, not in a world of reality. All ideas have consequences. But the worst ideas usually have consequences for someone else. That is why the worst ideas usually come from tenured professors who are shielded from consequences altogether. Keep reading:

If you would insist that others must be bound by the precepts of your religion, then you do not believe in religious freedom.

Christianity does not mandate marriage among its own adherents. It certainly does not mandate the practice among non-Christians. Of course, under the current definition of marriage, no one is forced to follow a religious practice. But some are choosing to follow a secular practice and call it a religious practice. They are also trying to force followers of a religious practice to call a secular practice a religious practice against their will.

The government seizure and redefinition of a religious practice – one that actually predates the government - cannot be seen as a step towards religious freedom. But that is Dick’s position. He thinks the government – by judicial fiat - can redefine a religious institution that predates its existence. If you disagree, “then you do not believe in religious freedom.” Does any of this make sense? Read on:

If you say that you oppose Sharia law because it forces religious rules on nonbelievers, then why are you doing the very same thing?

Translation: If you think the voters of North Carolina can retain the traditional definition of marriage by a vote you are wrong. This would block the judiciary from imposing same-sex marriage on the general population against its will. And that would destroy religious freedom.

Marriage is an institution that predates every constitution, every judicial body, and every legislative body in the world. Nonetheless, Veit thinks the government has a right to seize and redefine religious institutions such as marriage at will. If you disagree with Dick then he claims that you are just like Muslim extremists who want to set up a theocracy in America.

That is how the tenured Dick thinks. That is why the people of North Carolina must vote to preserve traditional marriage via constitutional amendment. Otherwise, we really will start looking like a Muslim theocracy. And prophets will be marrying six year olds in the name of sexual equality.

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