I began writing this Diary Entry after hearing that Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California Proposition 8 banning gay marriage is unconstitutional. Others here will write about the legal and political strategies to come. I will explain some of the hypocritical coded language used to oppose gay marriage, particularly in this case.
The Religious Right has been pretending to believe that human rights are given solely by God, and cannot be granted by governments. Without any context, this could sound like a high principle, but it isn't clear what it could mean in practice. OK, God gives us rights, but how do we assert them? What protects us from improper laws?
It takes no great insight, however, to understand this talking point when you have the context of gay marriage and abortion. It isn't our rights we are talking about. It's Them. It's Their wrongs.
The Theory of the Code-Speaking Class
Most of the bigoted and racist Southern Strategy code that I have been documenting
- dKosopedia: Code Words
- Translating Code: The Punishment of Haiti
- Translating Code: Libertarian
- Translating Code: Starve the Beast
has some degree of Plausible Deniability. For example, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued for States Rights and Nullification in cases not having to do with slavery. However, "Human rights come from God. Governments can't give them." is utterly transparent as soon as you see the connection. If only God can grant Free Speech, and so on, then government can't grant unChristian rights, or as we will call them today, taking them at their word, "wrongs".
Again, most Southern Strategy code is supposed to have an undeniable, unimpugnable surface meaning. That way it takes time to explain the difference between the surface and real meanings, and as they say in politics, when you are explaining, you're losing. This one doesn't work that way on its intended victims, the Godless, gritless Secular Humanist Liberal tyrants who are intent on snuffing out our country[TM]. The outright atheist laughs. "What God?" Members of other churches don't buy it, either.
A parson, observing a man working in his garden, smirked, "God and you have made this a beautiful garden."
"Yeah," came the reply. "And you should have seen it before I gave him a hand."
Perhaps you have heard the saying, "God helps those who help themselves"? Of course, that's wrong. God helps those who help each other.
Human and God-Given Rights (and "Wrongs")
Yes, it's true that our sainted Founding Father Thomas Jefferson (not to be confused with the atheist Jacobin Thomas Jefferson currently being removed from Texas schoolbooks) told us that it is self-evident that God endowed us with unalienable rights, meaning that they cannot be taken away from us, that we could not give them away if we wanted to, and that they include Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
How does that work, then, in practice? Humanity has obviously had these rights since the Creation or the split from the ape-human common ancestor, whichever, if not before. And has enjoyed these rights no matter what other humans and their governments get up to. Most of us will have a problem right here with the history of governments killing people, imprisoning them, torturing them, and so on. Or just ordinary murder.
Well, it turns out that for some Christians these rights have a different interpretation. We have, for life, liberty, and happiness
- Eternal Life
- Free Will (but see Calvinism, below)
- The Hope of Heaven
none of which have anything to do with governments, even such nasty governments as in Nero's Rome, with its lions in the arena, or early Tokugawa Japan, which crucified Japanese Christians along a great length of the Tokaido after it found out that Spain was planning to take over. Although we might not be able to talk about God or our rights publicly under such tyrannies.
But I get the idea that Jefferson had something quite different in mind. Taxation without Representation, for example, which God had been allowing for millennia, except just recently in England, probably Cornwall, and maybe Scotland and Wales. Certainly not Ireland. Clearly governments can give citizens voting rights or withhold them. They can give or withhold citizenship itself. And curiously, some who claim that human rights are from God alone are also claiming that we need to repeal the birthright citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Now, lest you accuse these Good Christians of inconsistency or even hypocrisy, let us note that the God-given human rights that such Christians believe in are available (according to some) only to Christians, and possibly not all Christians outside of their particular church. Maybe only to American Christians. The rest of us Liberal Commie Nazis and furriners, and especially baby murderers and GayswhoareanabominationuntoGodwiththeirevilagenda are obviously all going to Hell, and with that in the offing, mere government-guaranteed rights count for almost nothing. Possibly less than nothing. And we shouldn't have them anyway.
[Added later] And that goes double for Blacks, according to the Curse of Ham theory. The extreme version of this in the Southern Baptist Church is not only that Blacks are Black because of the curse, but also morally and intellectually inferior, suitable only for slavery, and better off as slaves. A similar doctrine was taught by Brigham Young in the LDS/Mormon Church, but was rejected by a much later revalation.
Rights (and Wrongs) under Predestination
The Augustinian or Calvinist God of some churches [with the Apartheid Dutch Reformed Church as the extreme case, but not Southern Baptists, contrary to a misapprehension of mine] has preordained from eternity which souls will be saved and which will fall into sin (or rather, never get the signal from God to climb out) and be condemned. This is strictly a matter of God's Free Will, which we sinners (at least, those of us who are going to be saved, whenever God wants that to happen) can do nothing but praise. The sinners who are condemned before their births to sin and death, to everlasting torment, may choose to reject God and rebel against him—sorry, may do so because God chose that for them, but they don't count. And it doesn't matter whether God chose to give them any rights. Except that we have free will anyway, in some way that is literally not explained, and must be taken on faith.
Those who don't go for Predestination can't wrap their minds around all of this. Some conclude that such Christians are victims of excessive logic, of Aristotelianism, or of puffing up God's powers absurdly. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then predestination becomes a logical conclusion, and human Free Will a delusion. (Calvinists deny this last.) Only God has Free Will, but that's freedom enough for us here below, at least for those he chooses to reward in this way. Maintaining omnibenevolence is then impossible, but one can still pretend to oneself that God being benevolent to his chosen followers is good enough, and pray (Luke 18:11, my updates from the English of King James)
God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, baby murderers, Liberals, Gays, or even like this here Revenooer.
even though Jesus said not to do so when
he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others...I tell you, this man [the Revenooer] went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
It is almost impossible to convey to a modern, non-Jewish audience the revulsion of Jews of that time against Samaritans, who followed all of the commandments but one: They kept and ate pigs. Even today, Orthodox Jews can be put into a state of nausea and vomiting if they find out that they have eaten something seriously non-Kosher through accident or ignorance, as when it came out that McDonald's had been frying potatoes in a mix containing beef fat. (Beef can be kosher. Beef and a milkshake, no way.) And among the Orthodox are some who regard Reform Jews, who don't keep Kosher, as the Samaritans, or even, God forbid, as Christians. But almost all Jews will concede that God made Goyim, and commanded Jews to treat them properly, granting them actual rights.
The point here, however, is that as the Good Samaritan was to Jews of old, so are any helpful and public-spirited Gayim today to the kind of Christian we are talking about, the kind who pretend that Gays by their very nature are incapable of having Human Rights, only Human Wrongs.