The governor of Washington State yesterday signed a gay marriage bill– subject to rejection at referendum- but in spite of that, there is general celebration among the good people.
How did it come to this? Isn’t Christian morality the generally accepted guide to right and wrong in America, if not other Western social democracies? How did something officially immoral become moral?
Back in the old days- not even that long ago, 150 to 200 years- you could let your freak flag fly and nobody cared all that much. In an agricultural society, as I have said, your status is established at birth and you can’t lose it, short of treason or maybe murder. But as society industrialized and commercialized, your status could rise or fall depending on your success and acceptance by the growing business community. And we went from an elite that based its status on the exploits of its mounted knight ancestors, to one where it was based on money earned in trading and banking.
The old elite was nominally Christian, but didn’t much trouble itself about screwing whatever it wanted. The long days at the country estate or the London mansion had to be filled somehow. Servant girls, prostitutes in brothels, your buddy’s wife- well maybe that was a bit frowned upon. The commercial elite, on the other hand, worked for a living and didn’t have time for such shenanigans. Being a businessman depends a great deal on trust and reputation, and being an upstanding member of a conservative church was part of that.
They claimed the right to rule society based on their sober behavior and acumen at business. Republicans and conservatives still use this as a selling point. What they don’t understand is times changed, around the early 1920’s sometime.
The new elite grew rich, but most of their children did not stay in banking and trading. Only one child can inherit a family business, and the others will find their way into genteel professions such as academics, law, maybe medicine- back then it was a noblesse oblige profession- some sort of ministry, or non-profits. The sober life of the black-suited Calvinist businessman did not appeal to them.
This elite was still the moral elite, though. Whatever they wanted to do had to be moral. And they had come to believe that by virtue of who they were, whatever they did was moral, by definition. They had money, and a certain amount of opportunity and leisure, and they wanted to screw around. So the redefined morality- they had and have the power to do that- to allow them to do what they wanted.
E. Michael Jones wrote a book called “Degenerate Moderns” in which he described this process. He doesn’t get into the why, but he explains the how very well. He starts with the gay British spies of Oxford, takes on Margaret Mead- whose stories of casual sexual morality amongst Polynesians were completely fabricated- Albert Kinsey, who used the sexual behavior of underclass criminals as a healthy norm- Picasso, who painted women he hated and had dumped in the abstract, and women he loved realistically- and winds up with Martin Luther, who he accuses of starting the whole thing. And if you’re saved by faith alone, well, you can be flexible about things can’t you?
What is right and wrong in the US- or more generally the Anglosphere, and the West in general- is what the elites feel like doing, or is to their benefit to permit. They began loosening up sexual morality in the 20’s, although this didn’t reach the population in general until the 50’s, and not widely applied until the 70’s. Gays had long been familiar to the rich as service providers of various sorts- dressmakers, florists, theater people, and servants. Gays wanted to be free under the new morality, so they were granted it.
Police vice squads used to shut down gay bars, bathhouses, and steamrooms. Even in the big city it was not safe to be publicly gay. But the proles were getting to enjoy free love, and the argument was made it wasn’t cool to deny this to gays. Bathhouses in San Francisco got shut down in the AIDS scare of the early 80’s, but they still exist in Seattle. Gay sex became legal. Non-discrimination for employment was a stickier issue, but that was swallowed quickly most places as well.
As much privacy and personal latitude as people are willing to grant others for their personal lives, formal acceptance of homosexuality as a way of life- in the form of same-sex marriage- is resisted by most people, who have a visceral disgust for it. But “most people” don’t get to decide what’s right and wrong.
Whatever you want to do, whoever you’re going to snuggle up with tonight is OK- unless you’re a Republican, in which case anything you do is sick and disgusting and a product of your personal repression and you should probably kill yourself. Just kidding!
The pope says even in homosexuality is biological, it’s not OK. As Chuck D said, the parts don’t fit. As I say, I don’t want to pay for your AIDS drugs, so if you can’t stay away from the brown starfish, or you can’t keep guys away from yours, please be careful.
Happy Valentine’s Day!