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.
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
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.