Monday, December 9, 2013

Totalitolerance

Guest post by Baloo:

L. Neil Smith and I make an interesting contrast, of a sort. In the following essay, he says several things I disagree about, to one extent or another, but the really important thing he says, I completely agree with him about. Some would say I'm a right-libertarian while Neil is a left-libertarian, but that's not accurate. In many ways, Neil is on the right, and in some ways, I suppose I'm on the left. Here are the disagreements: Neil says he's always championed gay marriage, or marriage equality. I definitely don't, and the document I refer to isn't the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, but the Dictionary. "Marriage" can consist of a man and a woman, or a man with several wives, or a woman with several husbands, or even more exotic things like Manuel's marriage in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  What it can't consist of is two or more men or two or more women. Because a marriage, throughout human history, is about reproduction.  So homosexual marriage is as much of a logical impossibility as marriage between a man and a duck, or a piece of furniture. 

Another point here I disagree about is Christianity.  Neil has no use for it, but while I'm not a Christian and never have been, I value Christianity for its many good effects (I think it's philosophically one of the underpinnings of libertarianism, for example) while I deplore it for its bad effects. But my experience is that all religions, including atheism, require non-logical faith at one point or another.

And I also slightly disagree when Neil says that no gay libertarian couple would call for coercion in this case.  I agree that no gay libertarian couple ought to do so, but I'll bet I could find one that would make an exception in this case. Because as the liberal virus infects everything else, it also infects libertarians, and we have to be very careful that we don't wake up one morning and find out that libertarianism has been subsumed and is now a branch of liberalism.

But what we agree about here is overwhelmingly more important than any of that stuff, which we can bicker about for decades without either of us attempting to boss anybody around.  What we agree on is that nobody can use the God of Tolerance to create totalitarianism, or, as the word I just coined has it, "totalitolerance."  Neil explains:


Let Them Eat Cake
by L. Neil Smith
lneil@netzero.com

Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

The Bill of Rights has just been chucked into the disposal by a two-for-a-nickel administrative law judge in Denver, in a ruling that will prolong and intensify conflict, and give a pat on the head to involuntary servitude, rather than bring trouble to a just and lawful conclusion.

As often happens, all the shoes are on the wrong feet. A couple of gay males, recently married out of state (Colorado recognizes "civil unions", but not same-sex marriages) reportedly wanted to celebrate their nuptials, and sought a baker to bake and decorate a wedding cake.

They picked the wrong baker—although a local radio talk show host contends that they deliberately shopped around for a baker who would react this way—a Christian who believes that homosexuality is immoral. He told them he would be happy to sell them any other bakery goods. But he refused to create a wedding cake with two guys on the top.

Keep a mental eye on that word "create"; we'll get back to it.

To make a short story shorter, the matter (it can't properly be called a "dispute", since nobody has a right to dispute another person's private convictions before the law—that's what America is supposed to be about) was taken before this streetcorner judge, who ruled that the baker would damned well make the cake, as specificed, or suffer fines and jail. Henceforward, the bakery would be monitored to make sure that it humbly and abjectly serves the newly-privileged class.

Now here's where the wires begin to get crossed. This publication, and its publisher, have never been particularly fond of Christianity. Without going too deeply into it, I think it has a stultifying effect on the human mind, and has been the cause of millions of unnecessary and cruel deaths over twenty centuries. I know that other folks hold otherwise, but I have never found it to be a true friend of individual liberty.

On the other hand, The Libertarian Enterprise and I have always championed gay marriage, or at least legal equality where marriage is concerned. Taking it to the most basic level, the taxes of gay people pay for the courthouse as surely as the taxes of those who are not gay.

On the third hand (as a science fiction writer, I can do that), if we live in any kind of decent culture at all—something that seems in greater doubt with every passing day—individuals have a right to their opinions, no matter how stupid they may be, to express them freely, and act on them as long as it doesn't physically harm anybody else.

Equally, no right exists, on the part of any individual or of the government, to compel anyone to have a different opinion (although the technical means to do that are right around the corner—science fiction writer, remember?), or to express it or act on it against his will,
And here's where that word "create" comes in.

Imagine a government with the power to force Michaelangelo to employ the full range and power of his creative energies to paint Satan on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, roasting cherubs on a pitchfork.

Imagine a government with the power to force Beethoven to employ the full range and power of his creative energies to write a symphony celebrating the conquests of Napoleon, not the victory over him at Waterloo.

Imagine a government with the power to force George Gershwin or Paul Simon or Leonard Cohen to employ the full range and power of their creative energies to write a paean to the greatness of Adolf Hitler.

This ruling is a rank obscenity, not because it has anything to do with sex or with marriage, but because it attempts to force an artist—the composer and sculptor of beautiful wedding cakes—to employ the full range and power of his creative energies against his personal convictions.

To a storyteller like me, who has had to confront many forms of censorship during his life, it would be like being forced to write a book extolling the splendors of gun control, taxation, conscription, a U.N, selective breeding program, and culling nine tenths of the human race.
I wouldn't do it.

I'm not sure I could do it.

People have been tortured to death in dungeons over this kind of thing. However virtuous and "liberal" this gay couple and their judge may mistakenly believe they are, they are,in fact, on the side of the torturers.

They are the new Inquisition.

No gay libertarian couple would have fomented this travesty, Nor would any gay conservative couple. But for "liberals", coercion seems to be the only way. The problem is that "liberalism" isn't "liberal" at all—nor is it "progressive"—but repressive, oppressive, and suppressive of the unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights of every man, woman, and child who dares to disagree with it.
As for the clown who, in the face of logic and the law, made this ruling, he is a bad judge and a bad man, an idiot or a villain. We will be watching his career from now on to ensure it doesn't get very far.

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