I’ve written much at Chaos Section about my personal evolution from a formerly socially conservative licensed fundamentalist minister who took up with the religious right, to my current viewpoint as a libertarian and agnostic atheist. I’ve shared with any readers who care to read about how I feel well-positioned as a critic of religious encroachments on human freedom, and this ‘culture war’ is where I may be able to speak from an informed viewpoint that may actually do some good. Our inalienable right to ‘freedom of speech’ being listed first in the Bill of Rights seems fitting to me, as the freedom of thought and conscience means nothing if we can’t articulate our position openly and w/o coercion – and we’d do well to remember that it is precisely because people might say controversial and unpopular things that warrants a need to protect that speech (the 1st Amendment wasn’t written to protect your right to pay a friend a compliment or other uncontentious speech). History is littered with dead bodies of heretics who dared speak truth to power, but their dedication to truth compelled them to speak up in spite of the possible consequences. It is a manifestation of the arc of human history towards progress that some people finally thought this an issue of such paramount importance, that ‘free speech’ is considered so sacred to many of us and is now such an intrinsic part of law and culture. If there’s any good from the theological studies of my Baptist days, it may be that I developed a healthy sense of the right of the individual to sovereign conscience and religious liberty. The irony is not now lost on me that it is my principled stand for individual liberty that currently sets me at such diametric odds with the Southern Baptist Convention and other socially conservative and religious groups and people who I see as hypocrites, ignoramuses, and hate-mongers who are setting up a revival of what I think could be somewhat analogous to a ‘Jim Crow’ style legal environment – but against gay people this time. http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/06/28/3674920/huckabee-civil-disobedience/
Christian fundamentalists and everyone else absolutely have the right to believe anything any of us wants to believe. This does mean that people have the right to be hateful bigots, the right to use pejoratives and racial slurs, and the right to fly any flag you want (of course, respecting private property rights in the process. Public property is something I won’t get into for the purposes of this post). People have the right to be as unreasonable, obtuse, ridiculous, superstitious, ignorant, uneducated, and stupid as we want to be – otherwise, we’ve all said something that others could take as offense and seek to imprison us if the laws didn’t protect freedom of thought and speech. You can go around with your ‘beware the color green’ sign and preach eternal damnation for anybody who wears the color green if you want to – it is your right to do so. Where I think the alarmist anti-gay christians and others sometimes make error, is somehow confusing their right to free speech with an imagined ‘right to be heard’ or ‘right not to have my speech challenged or ridiculed.’ You can shout your ignorant hateful religious bullshit at people if you want to, but you must understand that you will get as good as you give. Where I also see error is when they try to construe this freedom to express their beliefs and live by the dictates of their conscience as rationale for restricting the same liberties afforded to everyone else – effectively ignoring equal protection under the law and equal access to the services of law. In other words, your natural right to freely exercise your religion is absolute until it infringes on the equal rights of others. As a libertarian, I’m all for getting government out of the business of marriage altogether; but as long as we have a government, and as long as that government issues marriage licenses, it is a miscarriage of liberty and justice for that government to discriminate. If you have a religious objection to homosexuality and are an employee of government who issues marriage licenses to straight couples, you have every right to quit your job if it would violate your religious convictions to marry gay couples in accordance with what the supreme court has recently found constitutional law – but you DO NOT in any way have the right to refuse that service to gay couples while still performing it for straight couples as an agent of government. You are in no wise being ‘persecuted’ for your beliefs; to the contrary – you are the ones doing the persecuting, and your ridiculous religious superstitions have indoctrinated you with a victim mentality that turns the definitions of persecution and liberty on their heads if you see equality with your fellow humanity under law as repugnant to your religious beliefs. You can cry infringement on your religious liberty all you want – I call bullshit. In no way does this late supreme court ruling force religious ministers who are not acting as an agent of government to perform any marriage ceremonies for anybody they don’t want to, and it doesn’t even mean that you have to like it if your gay neighbors get married.
So, how am I relating all this to Jim Crow? Well; first of all, I don’t want to make the analogy too rigid. A blogger whose writings I enjoy quite often recently pointed out in an outstanding post about the poor choice of analogy in this current public debate to Dred Scott http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2015/06/28/dred-scott/. I hope I avoid the same type of unfortunate pitfall here, but I do think it’s at least somewhat appropriate to make a comparison with Jim Crow. Jim Crow was a patchwork of legalities driven by ignorance, hatred, bigotry, and largely by white identity religious radicals which resulted in many blacks in the south from having equal access to voting and other services (again, I won’t get into the complexities of private vs. public for the purposes of this essay) afforded to white folks – the new Jim Crow against gays which may be taking off with the religious right’s misapplication of righteous civil disobedience seeks to deny gays from having equal access to services afforded to hetero couples and is fueled by ignorance, hatred, bigotry, and religious radicals as well. Many of these alarmist religitards who are ‘crying wolf’ and engaging in intellectual acrobatics to somehow make themselves out as the victims in a persecuted class, are the same science-deniers who believe the earth is 6,000 years old and that the theory of human evolution is satanic lie. If we define a fundamentalist as someone who believes the bible is the infallible word of god, then I know the bible well enough to know these people also believe that homosexuality is an abomination to god, that there is no such things as atheists, and some even equate homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia! These uneducated, low-information, science-opposing voters who make up the socially conservative religious right claim to be taking a moral stand against homosexuality – but in action are only proving their massive willful ignorance, messiah complex mentality, unintelligible logic, and bankrupt morality. Again; I know enough about the bible to know that it is an archaic, self-contradictory, mythological work of fiction about a petulant, hateful, misogynistic, slave-sanctioning, genocidal tyrant of a god. If you’re not an atheist yet (or at least an atheist in regards to the god of the bible), then I highly recommend you continue to studiously read and research the bible for yourself – it has made more atheists than any book I know. But, unfortunately, those who take the King James canon seriously seem to me to tend to take after the morally bankrupt hateful god the bible is about as well – and therein is one major root cause of what we’re currently seeing in America as the rise of the modern anti-gay Jim Crow.
Also, something that’s worth considering in this whole debate about marriage is the fact that marriage is a human invention that has meant many different things to a plethora of peoples and vista cultures and geographical locations throughout tens of thousands of years of human history. Other than that, I’m going to let this video explain why it is so ridiculous for religious conservatives to argue for their most current religious definition of marriage yo be adopted as the government definition of marriage and imposed on everyone else:
Now, I know for some, they have made all kinds of arguments about constitutionality and what would have possibly been better legal mechanisms by which gays could have been granted equality under the law as opposed to what some are calling judicial activism they consider as to have written this right out of thin air. I don’t deny that there may be some truth to this, but I don’t know for sure. Considering I’m basically a philosophical anarcho-capitalist who only considers that government at any level as acting legitimately that manifestly affirms individual natural rights, I don’t much care which mechanisms or level of the state which spoke to affirm those same freedoms for some people as for everybody else – the important thing is that human freedom won the day. In other words: if it is the supreme court which makes whole the freedom of the human beings even against all other branches and levels of government, then I side with the supreme court – against the federal legislature, the executive branch, or the state and/or local governments, etc; if it is the state government which acts to protect the natural rights of the individual even from the federal government, and municipalities and counties – then I side with the state government; if it is the county sheriff who sides with the sanctity of the inalienable rights of the individual even from the state government or federal agencies, then I side with the sheriff. And if any and all of the government at every level is making itself the enemy of the liberty of individuals, then color me an anarchist. While those who put their trust in laws of men, gods, and governments can try to unravel the tangled web of legalese that helps them preserve their pet issue they want the government doing or to give themselves cover for their religious bigotry, intolerance, and discrimination – I’ll continue to make the case for the sanctity of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness for all individuals even in the absence of the state. Until that government-free utopia exists, I’ll be standing my straight ass next to the gay ones demanding the existing government do the right thing. http://www.wkyt.com/wymt/home/headlines/Dozens-protest-Rowan-County-clerks-decision-on-marriage-licenses-310947351.html
There is a case to be made for no government involvement in marriage and there is a case to be made for equal access to existing government marriage licenses to all – but nowhere is there a case to be made for the same government which issues marriage licenses to straight couples the ability to deny the same service to gay couples. Such arguments for discrimination are each and every one demonstrably invalid when weighing the facts and manifest freedom of actual human beings in real time.
While I’m at it, let me take this opportunity to point out that I whole-heartedly embrace the methods of civil disobedience when used to secure someone’s liberty from oppression. With that said, let me also point out what a bastardization of the civil disobedience concept is the notion that it should be employed to deny equal access to government services for gays as what is afforded to straights. It’s another example of how the backwards non-thinking of religious conservatism can turn a concept that is appropriate as a tool to secure one’s freedom on its’ head to be used as a tool of oppression and discrimination. It is amazing how the ignorant religious bigots can take an idea and spin it until it becomes just the opposite of the tool of justice it was meant to be, demonstrating once again the propensity of superstitious humans to distort reality such that, “war is peace – freedom is slavery – ignorance is strength.” – George Orwell, “1984”
Also related: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/06/i-dont-stand-alone-county-clerks-invoke-religious-freedom-to-ignore-law-on-same-sex-marriage/
A.G. “Brick” House is an Afghanistan war veteran and former licensed minister (UPCI), who has become an outspoken skeptic, peace advocate, and involved himself in many other issues which he believes affect the individual freedoms of the people whose constitutional rights he took an oath to defend. He currently resides in the heart of Tennessee with his companion dog ‘Liberty,’ where he is recovering from PTSD, enjoys the therapeutic hobbies of gardening, creative writing, playing drums in the metal band Outlaw Serenade http://www.outlawserenade.com/, and other forms of artistic expression \m/