The Power of Normalcy

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As the Rhode Island Senate prepares to vote on a bill to redefine marriage to include couples of the same sex, this recent essay by Sarah Hoyt comes to mind:

That wish for normality, that desire to belong to a group is what causes the whole concept of “normal.”  I don’t know anymore who I was reading the other day, when a character says “What if nobody really is normal?  What if everyone is just pretending?”

I’d say it makes no difference, really.  Partly because the concept of normal and people acting externally normal makes it easier for rulers to control you and particularly to hold over you the threat of exclusion form the group; and partly because eventually you internalize what you pretend to be.

The first threat was worse, of course, in more primitive days.  Lacking mass media to control the people, rulers had to be very black and white about it.  “If you don’t eat your peas the way we do, you’re one of THEM and we’ll kill you/throw you out.”

In the modern age, this has become less harsh – in most places.  Communist regimes, like all theocracies, are still very harsh.  On the other hand Mass media – even mass dissemination of books, has made it easier to make people fall into line of themselves.

There’s a lot of truth to Hoyt’s analysis, and it’s been all over advocacy for the same-sex marriage.  The Left has taken over education pretty much from start to finish; it dominates the news and entertainment media; it’s got reach into every community via teachers’ and other public sector unions; and especially in the past few years, it’s owned much of Washington and Providence, with billions of dollars flowing through public and private conduits to promote, plan, and implement a broad catalog of progressive goals.

Especially recently, the effort has been palpable to make those who believe that marriage should remain the marker of the unique relationship between one man and one woman feel as if they are not normal, to make those who don’t care much about the issue feel as if there is something wrong with those new pariahs around them, and (especially) to lure the young to a sense of generational inclusion for harboring the correct belief.

The American Left takes the approach that Hoyt ascribes to Communist regimes and theocracies.  Those who disagree are bigots, the 1%, or some other pejorative that places them beyond the need for response and respect.

Those who lean to the right, politically, and who believe that this tactic will somehow dissipate once the issue of same-sex marriage is off the table are deluding themselves every bit as much as and more than those among their peers who really, truly believed that candidate Barack Obama would be a centrist healer.

Moving forward, the focus in Rhode Island will have to return to reversing the abysmal operation of the state as a civic and economic entity, and socially, we’ll have to return to the project of rebuilding the supports for those who hover on the edge of “okay.”  But if marriage has ceased to be a mechanism for shoring up the fundamental unit of a man and a woman and the children who share a bit of each of them, it’s going to be a whole lot more difficult, because more and more of the critical beliefs, principles, and institutions will be targeted as abnormal and subject to ridicule and exclusion.

Note: The bill passed; RI House expected to approve next week; governor expected to sign.

ADDENDUM:

As I typed the above, a near-perfect moment was happening in my Twitter feed.  Apparently, the media inside the Senate chambers could hear singing from the rotunda shortly after 5:00 p.m..

Ian Donnis: Sounds like SSM supporters singing in the rotunda

630 WPRO: Cheers and singing can be heard from the rotunda as Sen. Dawson Hodgson speaks in favor of #SSM. Reminds that entire #RIGOP caucus supports.

I’d swear that, while it was happening, there were more tweets from inside the chamber saying that they could hear “SSM supporters” singing outside the chamber (a crescendo for the victory if you will), but if so, they’ve all been deleted.  The interest was piqued, nonetheless:

Ted Nesi: Any reporters in the rotunda? There’s some really loud singing and we can’t tell what’s happening from inside.

The response came not from a reporter, but from National Education Association teachers’ union organizer Pat Crowley and his boss, Robert Walsh (the latter of whom has been busily illustrating is prior knowledge of the senatorial vote counts on this social issue):

Pat Crowley: anti group signing

Robert A. Walsh, Jr.: anti folks are singing

Note the harsh, near dehumanization, especially from Crowley, particularly in contrast to the parallel response from an actual reporter (and no right-winger, he):

Bill Rappleye: pro traditionalarriage folks.  Spanish churchgoers

And then:

Ian Donnis: TPW asking rotunda folks to simmer down; “the parliamentarian tells me I can’t control the rotunda.”

Sam G. Howard: Sen. Paiva Weed zings rotunda singers.

Edward Fitzpatrick: Senate President Paiva Weed asks that those singing outside to keep it down tho parlaimentarian assures her she can’t contol rotunda, #ssm

John Marion tweeted a picture from below the group, saying it wasn’t a big crowd.  A picture from above tweeted by Bill Rappleye shows (1) that the group was a bit bigger than it appeared from Marion’s angle, and (2) that however large it was, there wasn’t a much larger crowd of pro-SSM people around them. One more picture:

Phil Marcelo: That sound, you ask? a largely Spanish speaking, anti #ssm crowd singing protest hymns outside #RI senate chambers

And finally, a key point of the significance of the above:

David Pepin: Sen. Pichardo, a Dominican, backs SSM. But will he walk through that musical Latino anti-SSM throng in the Rotunda afterward?

This vignette merits further consideration and writing, but for now, I’ll leave it to speak for itself.



  • Warrington Faust

    This is intellectualizing the obvious, the decline of marriage. For most couples, marriage is now "optional" and has been devalued. Think back to reruns of "Leave it to Beaver", or, "All in the Family". Would the contemporary audiences of those shows even been able to conceive of SSM? Admittedly, the "Boston Marriage" between single females has been known for over 150 years. Some will say this is progress. I recall that well into the 80's my father couldn't hire single men past the age of 35, the government would not give them a "security clearance". (That was "Cold War" and most famous British defectors were gay)

  • Jim

    The best part of the anti SSM crowd that was singing is they can stay and testify for the drivers licenses for illegals and the instate tuition for illegals too. I think they are a one size fit all, rent a group That rolls out for the cameras.

  • Sammy

    Of course it's a lot more than gay marriage with the folks on the radical right, they want to control every aspect of our lives. The rightes have promoted employment discrimination against gay folks for years
    When Ellen DeGeneres was hired as a spokesperson for JC Penney the righties called for a boycott
    When Ford Motor Company advertised in the magazine "The Advocate" the righties called for a boycott
    When Apple Computers hired the much respected gay man. Tim Smith as CEO the righties called for a boycott
    When McDonalds Corp joined the Gay Chamber of Commerce , the wing-nuts called for a boycott
    when Bill Clinton appointed the philanthropist James Hormel to be ambassador the wingnuts went crazy
    When Mitt Scissor hands Romney hired the gay Richard Grenell the anti- folks forced him to walk the plank

    • Mike

      Love the irony. "Righties…want to control every aspect of our lives…." As if it's the right in this country that is tying taxpayer hands with regulations, the nanny state, and "enforced tolerance."

      Classic blindness and denial. It would be funny if it weren't so darn sad.

  • For readers who don't know, Sammy has a long history of chiming in (from Arizona) with outlandishly partisan (and often entirely off-topic) propaganda. One needn't go through the list of left-wing boycotts and similar actions to observe that Sammy is doing precisely what I described in the post.

    Somebody, somewhere, reacted in a way that Sammy's ilk finds politically helpful, and so that's representative of an entire group of "righties" (round 'em up!) who want to "control every aspect of our lives." Hello, Big Lie.

  • Dan

    I was hoping against hope that – to borrow a Seinfeld phrase – the new era of this blog could be "Sammy-free." Banning critiques or unpopular content, as the NPRifuture blog likes to do, is an egregious violation of the blogger code. Genuine trolls like Sammy, on the other hand, should be swiftly and systematically put down without mercy. Perhaps a new anti-trolling policy would be appropriate for this new Justice League alliance?

  • Oh, come on, Dan. Even trolls have their use, as long as they don't break too much in their clumsiness. Didn't you ever see the claymation Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

  • Warrington Faust

    I apprecaite Sammy's posts, I am reminded that "they're out there".

  • Hey, Sammy, this one's for you:

    “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins tells interrogators in the video, which FRC obtained from the FBI. “I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that.”

    The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reported that Corkins, who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, said in court that he hoped to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces, and kill the guard.”

  • Tommy Cranston

    " The Left has taken over education pretty much from start to finish; it dominates the news and entertainment media; it’s got reach into every community via teachers’ and other public sector unions; and especially in the past few years, it’s owned much of Washington and Providence, with billions of dollars flowing through public and private conduits to promote, plan, and implement a broad catalog of progressive goals"

    That is the March Through The Institutions program which global communism has used since the days of Gramsci.
    Anyone thinks this stops with Sicko marriage is deluded. They won't stop till this is a thoroughly bankrupt, imploding Soviet-style atheist left dictatorship. They can't help themselves; they are petulant children who believe in social and economic fairy tales.
    Next up-a law commanding God allow babies to be created by the insemination of men's rectums as the days of King Canute come to 21st century America.

  • Tommy Cranston

    “The American Left takes the approach that Hoyt ascribes to Communist regimes and theocracies. Those who disagree are bigots, the 1%, or some other pejorative that places them beyond the need for response and respect.”

    True as far as it goes. However there are those on the Right who refuse to fight back.
    [snipped unnecessarily inflammatory language – JK]

  • Warrington Faust

    There is always a willingness to believe that a change is permanent, meaning longer than the observer's expected lifetime.

    This is not the first time that "open gayness" has reached a level of acceptability, these periods seem to be followed by periods of revulsion. Consider the fates of emperor Elagabalus and Edward II of England. Edward's execution by having red hot irons forced up his rectum seems particularly telling. More recently we have the example of the "public virtues" of the Nazis following the licentiousness of the Weimar Republic.

    Not subscribing to any of this, just noting that the wheel turns.

  • Monique

    “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins tells interrogators in the video, which FRC obtained from the FBI. “I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that.”

    So the guy is a left-wing terrorist who picked his potential victims in part from the Southern Poverty Law's website. Huh. Funny we haven't heard much about that in the MSM. But if he had visited a Tea Party or GOP website to find pro-gay marriage victims, it would have made (certain) headlines for weeks.

  • Warrington Faust

    Monique, I think that a little investigation will show that the SPLC has to be considered a "for profit" institution. When looking for "hate groups", they "go where the money is".

    Thinking on my comment on the "wheel turns", I recalled a woman I knew about 20 years ago. She ran a lingerie shop and a bridal shop on Route 1, just South of Boston. I think Norwood. She had a lot of trouble with female customers complaining about male customers. In the bridal shop she was able to compromise by creating separate dressing rooms for men in the basement. She had to ban them altogether from "trying things on" in the lingerie shop, women were distressed that men might have tried them on. Reminds me of the now infamous flower shop, I wonder what result today?