Lessons from Facebook Politics
I never really felt like I had a dog in the fight for gay marriage. I heard the arguments get interjected between traffic reports on the radio and that was just about as vested as I ever got on the matter.
I did sympathize with those who wanted gay marriage to be legal. It seems rather sad when people get persecuted for how they wish to marry. There used to be US presidential candidates who ran with campaign promises to exterminate the my own ancestors because of how they chose to marry.
The motivation behind eradicating Mormon polygamists in the 19th century is the same as the motivation to prevent same-sex couples from receiving a state marriage license in the 21st: Some people have a certainty that removes any doubt in their mind of whether they're justified in wielding the sword of the state against those they deem as morally inferior. That is the sort of attitude that warrants caution at the very least.
As the date of the ruling neared, though, it seemed like the subject had to present itself in every avenue of my Internet activity. When SCOTUS finally came out with precisely the ruling I expected, I did want to breathe a sigh of relief. We could all move on. Right?
Table of Contents
1 Holy crap, Facebook.
I really haven't seen much of a conservative reaction to the ruling -- maybe because conservatives assume I'm one of them and that they don't have to preach to this particular member of the choir.
And maybe that assumption has gone the other way, too, because everywhere I turn, it's been this massive waterfall of left-wing crusaders and their incessant rhetorical yammering. Who are they trying to convince? Haven't they already got what they want?
It seems like their ire is pointed entirely at the ambivalent and the indifferent. That I didn't care to change my Facebook profile picture to the inane rainbow, that's proof positive that I also hate fags.
It's unfair to force anybody to choose a side on an issue as complex and weighty as this. But even saying that seems to collect a good chunk of passive-aggressive sermons from folks who can't wait for another opportunity to hash-tag something "#lovewins." And I get it. When you are certain that you have the moral high ground, why should you hesitate to whip everybody else into shape?
And because Facebook only gets to have two issues on it, I did notice some similarities between this situation and another…
2 You Can't Fly That Flag Here
On March 4th, 1861, Honest Abe was inaugurated and one of the first things he's out to do is satiate his moral convictions. Not about slaves, though. In August 22nd, 1862, after the war had already started, Abraham Lincoln wrote:
The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.
In other words, he wanted to keep as many stars on Old Glory as he could and slavery was an orthogonal issue to him. Lincoln was certain of the moral superiority of preserving the Union.
So Abraham Lincoln did as every other morally certain politician has ever done: He decided to march troops out to exterminate those who dared to fly a different flag. Just like some prospective presidents wanted to march troops out to kill Mormons for daring to have consensual plural marriages and just as maybe some bible belt residents might love to do with gays.
You could also call it the preservation of the traditional union between a state and a Constitution. Lincoln couldn't tolerate people who had different political alignments. He wanted everybody, slave owner or otherwise, to conform to his federo-normative world view.
By April 12th, 1861, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas had already come out as the Confederate States of America and started the war. But this whole time, Virginia stayed in the Union.
Three days later, POTUS calls for conscripts because the Confederates had the gall to fly their pride flag over his fortress.
To this point, Virginia was willing to give the Union a shot. Sure, abolition was looming in the public sentiment and they'd have to deal with the consequences of that but rather than let the Confederates just be, Lincoln insisted on dragging everyone else into his crusade.
Virginia teaches us a very important lesson. If you're such a zealous bigot that you can't tolerate any differences existing even near you and your attitude forces everyone else around you to choose a side or die, people who may have otherwise been neutral or even lean in your direction will opt for the non-bigoted side. Since Lincoln was going to force them to fight in the war anyway, Virginia decided it'd be preferable to fight against Lincoln's intolerance.
3 If You're Not With Us, You're Against Us
With my Facebook friends, it's not a question of whether you support or oppose the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage. If you don't accept the entire narrative surrounding the issue, you're a bad person.
Even if you're like me and you shrug and say "whatever. SCOTUS can do what they like" – no, that's not good enough! You can't just agree to let statists fret over how they legislate what should be left to contract law, you have to also openly condemn any county clerk who resigns over the issue, you have to scorn everyone who doesn't like the SCOTUS ruling and you have to bellow from the roof tops, on every corner and in every profile picture – because there aren't enough rainbow colored pieces of flair.
I don't want to have a fight here. But it feels like if I don't turn my mild sympathy into bloodthirsty zeal, I'll be treated the exact same way that Pat Robinson would.
Here is a direct quote of a post made by a dear friend of mine in my feed:
Marriage equality is awesome. If you post against it, you have that right, just expect to not be my friend on Facebook or otherwise. If you want to talk about the issue before you loose [sic] me as a friend contact me, maybe we can talk and perhaps I can help you change your path to one of kindness, that would be wonderful.
You got that? If you have the gall to have a different political opinion, you need rehabilitation. It's a good thing somebody's out there to help me obtain that kind of moral certainty.
Another morally certain soul in the same thread…
Having a difference of opinion is fine… But not all disagreements are created equal. If someone doesn't like THE AVENGERS or hates Chinese food, I can live with that… If someone would vote to keep some fellow Americans from being treated equally, I DO have a big problem with that. Against equal pay for women? Goodbye. Think people of different races shouldn't inter-marry? So-long. Believe the love between two people you may not even know somehow violates YOUR rights? Take a hike - we have nothing to talk about.
Notice how gay marriage comes in the same basket as wage gap, interracial marriage and how it's all about preserving the love? This is a powerful rhetorical technique because if you don't agree to gay marriage but you did agree on every other issue, you'll be treated with the exact same response as if you disagreed on all of them. You have to pick a side with these people. Just like Abraham Lincoln; you either get to be their conscript or their enemy. Take your pick.
I also found this highly informative link in my feed. There's nothing combative about this! There's no tribalistic longing to beat down the Muggle-Gaijin-Otherkin types who we don't identify with here. There's no pathological need to feel like we now dominate over other human souls in some way. This is just a celebration of the opportunities created for the morally certain.
In response to that, I found…
That's what I would expect to hear from the republicans that have proven time and time again they are a war mongering, bigoted, pretend Christian, party that reduces the wealth and jobs of common people while increasing national debt. The proof is in the pudding!
Oh. I see. If you're a Republican, you're not a True Christian because No True Christian would ever be a member of the party of Abraham Lincoln; the man who decided to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans simply because he didn't like their flag. Can't argue with the pudding, man.
If you bring in Economic data that suggests that non-Republicans also play big roles in the ways that "common people" suffer, that is the same as being a pro-war, pro-bigotry, pretend-Christian.
4 Statist is as statist does
Based on the things that my liberal friends have said, it would seem that statist conservatives want to bludgeon anybody that they call a "sinner." Based on the things that my liberal friends have said, it seems they're just as eager to bludgeon racists and homophobes and they also want to bludgeon anybody who isn't already busy bludgeoning their enemies.
This isn't going to be one of those "why can't we all just get along?" pleas because I know better. Morally certain people of either party can't get just get along with whatever they deem to be immorality. I don't even want people to give up on their mutually exclusive moral convictions. The left can keep their roadside abortion booth dream and the right can continue to renege on their fair share of taxes and both sides can keep vandalizing the other's stuff over it.
Neither side is going to give up on their moral convictions. That's kind of part of the definition of a moral conviction; you don't just change those things at the drop of a hat. Unless you're willing to corral the opposition into concentration camps or force them all at sword-point to convert or die, chances are really good that the annoying moral convictions of the opposition are going to remain.
American politics has all the characteristics of a sick marriage where both parties hate each other, verbally abuse each other, spend insane amounts of money that they don't have, they each blame the other party for all of their problems and they refuse to acknowledge that this situation is probably bad for their very psychological health.
American society is in a weird denial stage where they refuse to accept that the Union that binds them isn't actually working out. When the idea of breaking up is presented, there's this visceral fear as photos of Civil War casualties flash before our eyes. Our Union is so sacred, we even build temples to commemorate the man who, when the idea of divorce reared its ugly head, bloodied that Southern bitch up and forced her to stay in the kitchen where she belongs. Now when we even whisper about moving on with our lives, we get laughed at before we're curtly told "no."
This is an unhealthy relationship.
You need to secede, Americans. You need it as much as a battered house wife needs divorce. There's no evidence that things will ever get more pleasant for yourselves by continuing this tug-of-war between incompatible world views. You can't be one indivisible nation with the dichotomous policies that your collective efforts create.
Something's gotta give. The absolute worst thing would be if one of your parties feels persecuted enough to start firing rounds over it (and don't pretend for a femtosecond, Liberals, that it couldn't possibly be you because that's exactly the kind of moral certainty that robs you of the self-awareness necessary to maintain a peaceful attitude).
However much you may love the institution of marriage, it can no longer be denied that this marriage between two loathing American societies, is a bad one. Get a divorce and be happier for it.