Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Freedom to Choose

David Brooks thinks that he’s clever by saying that marriage equality is actually a loss of freedom for those who want it.

Recently, the balance between freedom and restraint has been thrown out of whack. People no longer even have a language to explain why freedom should sometimes be limited. The results are as predicted. A decaying social fabric, especially among the less fortunate. Decline in marriage. More children raised in unsteady homes. Higher debt levels as people spend to satisfy their cravings.

But last week saw a setback for the forces of maximum freedom. A representative of millions of gays and lesbians went to the Supreme Court and asked the court to help put limits on their own freedom of choice. They asked for marriage.

Marriage is one of those institutions — along with religion and military service — that restricts freedom. Marriage is about making a commitment that binds you for decades to come. It narrows your options on how you will spend your time, money and attention.

Whether they understood it or not, the gays and lesbians represented at the court committed themselves to a certain agenda. They committed themselves to an institution that involves surrendering autonomy. They committed themselves to the idea that these self-restrictions should be reinforced by the state. They committed themselves to the idea that lifestyle choices are not just private affairs but work better when they are embedded in law.

And far from being baffled by this attempt to use state power to restrict individual choice, most Americans seem to be applauding it.

Except that Mr. Brooks misses the larger point, which is that being denied the right to limit your own freedom is in itself a limitation on freedom.  Straight couples have the right to choose to get married or not.  They know going in that they may lose some of the freedoms that they had when they were single, but that’s a choice they get to make.  Same-sex couples don’t have that choice.

It sounds as if Mr. Brooks is telling us in the LGBT community “be careful what you wish for.”  Yeah, well, I think most people over the age of majority have pretty much figured out that, to quote Lawrence and Lee in Inherit the Wind, “progress is never a bargain.  You have to pay for it.”  In this case, however, I think a number of us would be willing to sacrifice something in order to be treated the same way as everybody else.  At the very least, give us the choice.

14 barks and woofs on “Freedom to Choose

  1. Brooks is clueless; I stopped reading his dreck years ago. He could so easily rectify his cluelessness, but that would mean understanding something he really doesn’t want to understand.

    Hey David! Want to know what freedoms a gay man really wants? Here’s a clue: ask a gay man. That wasn’t difficult, was it?

  2. I kept trying to find some intelligent way to respond, but “double-standard enforcing a##hat” seems to be the best I can come up with.

  3. I can’t decide who’s stupider, Brooks or Douthat. Imagine paying someone to write that drivel. So why read it and repeat it? As Mother used to say “PNT”.

    • apparently you have to be an idiot to get hired by the NY Times these days… Brooks wonders why people aren’t scratching their heads over why people are choosing to be “less free”. Douthat asserts gay people should be more “magnanimous”and less (and this word, en vogue after Obama trounced McCain, bothers me no end) “triumphalist”. Douthat can stick it up his magnanim-ass. Brooks… i could rip that piece, word by word, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, and as a whole, six different ways from formal logic to common sense to to the damn dictionary, because he appears to not even know the definition of some of the words he’s using. Blathering. F*cking. Nonsense. The paper of record continues to embarrass themselves and their profession by giving these ridiculous people columns to air what can only be described as asinine drivel. FAIL.

  4. The same claim was made about gays serving in the military as well. It’s just an excuse to make a childish insult.

  5. So now marriage is a godawful, institution, and the precious gays must be protected from it. I think conservatives may have run out of arguments against gay marriage.

    • Ayuh.

      Seems all that Free Love™ in the 60s wasn’t so bad after all. And LGBT folk have gone from being among those Other people demanding Speshul Rights™ to squanderers of the precious Freedom™ through wanting to be responsible.

      IF marriage (“traditional” or no) truly is an institution that involves surrendering autonomy, why then is it so popular with heterosexuals (or those pretending to be heterosexual) – to the point that they enter it not only once but repeatedly throughout their lives? Why then is the federal tax code so laden with every possible advantage for it (unless of course Big Gubmint thinks it’s too expensive to survive on its own, and tries to cut those poor suckers a break every April)? You’d think all these Freedumz-shouters would be running away from any such enslavement as fast as they could.

      And Mr. Brooks, you can take your “lifestyle choices” and insert them…

  6. I find it interesting that Brooks’ idea to combat “decline in marriage” is to make sure 30 million Americans can’t get married by force of law.

  7. Seriously, Brooks repeats seriousness at such an inverse rate he should be held as the standard of unseriousness.

    Much like Thomas Friedman’s “Friedman Unit” I now declare the “Brooks Axiom” as the term for each case of a conservative attempting to make an intellectual point with stupidity.

  8. Am I missing something here? Does Brooks think that if same sex marriage is legal it will suddenly become mandatory?

    Going to college limits ones freedom too, but having the option to go to college increases ones freedom. That’s true of every decision one makes.

  9. BTW – Brooks came out in favor of SSM only ten years ago – and in the NYT. Now that it’s more likely to be a real thing someday soon, suddenly it’s enslavement of the LGBT masses. I think he just likes being contrary – even when he’s contrary to himself.

  10. What rankles me is that Brooks implies that all gay people are so stupid that they don’t already know all of this, like every other non-gay inhabitant of the planet does. But Thankfully he is gifted with the foresight they all lack, and is clueing them in to the big secret about marriage they’d never have heard about living in “gayland”, I guess.

    How fucking condescending. This guy is an elitist, arrogant prick, even when he’s trying to be what he apparently thinks is nice.

    I mean seriously, is there a place

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