Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sex and the New Intolerance

In a recent article on Maureen Dowd’s increasingly intense and frequent anti-Catholic rants in the New York Times, and on the general phenomenon of Catholic anti-Catholicism, George Weigel sees the driving force of this new bigotry as “an irrational and unsustainable belief in the sexual revolution” .

While the Church has cleaned house, Weigel argues, Dowd and other prophets and prophetesses of the Sexual Free-Fire Zone have blithely ignored the evidence of the broken and crippled lives caused by the sexual license they applaud as liberation.” What infuriates such anti-Catholic Catholics as Dowd, Anne Rice, and the National Catholic Reporter is, above all, the refusal of the Church to bend its teachings to the ideology and practices of the sexual revolution, to fall in line with the rich and powerful cultural elites that accept it as an unchallengeable orthodoxy.

In an excellent interview about the vote in New York on the “Marriage Equality Act,” Robert P. George discusses how the vote there “to redefine marriage advances the cause of loosening norms of sexual ethics,” how New York “has abolished marriage as a matter of civil law and replaced it with a counterfeit that New Yorkers’ children and grandchildren will be taught to accept and approve as if it were the real thing.” The whole argument is penetrating and should be read in full at

The part that especially struck me as a lifetime teacher of graduate social work students is the emergence of this new orthodoxy that George calls sexual liberalism. It is an ideology directly contrary to social work’s purpose of contributing to individual and community well-being and its commitment to the poor and vulnerable. Yet, like liberalism as a political movement, social work has fallen for this ideology hook, line, and sinker, and is increasingly intolerant of any evidence or argument that questions it.

It is an ideology whose early advocates were the likes of Margaret Sanger, Alfred Kinsey, and Hugh Hefner, who attacked and ridiculed traditional norms of sexual conduct as mere ‘hang-ups.’
Although Sanger was a racist and a eugenicist, though Kinsey was a liar and a fraud, though Hefner was a buffoon, the liberationist view they had championed eventually hardened into something very close to an orthodoxy in elite circles…. Devotion to ‘sexual freedom’ had been no part of the liberalism of FDR, George Meany, Cesar Chavez, Hubert Humphrey, or the leaders and rank-and-file members of the civil-rights movement. Today, however, allegiance to the cause of sexual freedom is the nonnegotiable price of admission to the liberal (or “progressive”) club.

The price is indeed nonnegotiable and faithful Catholics and other Christians are being forced out of leadership in the Democratic Party, its “Catholic” leaders like Pelosi, Biden, and Andrew Cuomo publicly and vehemently attacking the settled teaching of the Church.

But the same is happening in social work and other ‘helping professions’ as the belligerent adherents of the new sexual orthodoxy reject compromise on grounds of conscience or religious freedom and push out those who disagree with the sexual liberationist orthodoxy. George describes the process of conversion to sexual liberalism/liberation/libertinism and how it produces new levels on intolerance and bigotry in the name of tolerance:
Moreover, one will come to regard one’s allegiance to sexual liberalism as a mark of urbanity and sophistication, and will likely find oneself looking down on those “ignorant,” “intolerant,” “bigoted” people — those hicks and rubes — who refuse to get “on the right side of history.” One will perceive people who wish to engage in conduct rejected by traditional morality (especially where such conduct is sought in satisfaction of desires that can be redescribed or labeled as an “orientation,” such as “gay” or “bisexual,” or “polyamorist”) as belonging to the category of “sexual minorities” whose “civil rights” are violated by laws embodying the historic understanding of marriage and sexual ethics. One will begin congratulating oneself for one’s “open-mindedness” and “tolerance” in holding that marriage should be redefined to accommodate the interests of these minorities, and one will likely lose any real regard for the rights of, say, parents who do not wish to have their children indoctrinated into the ideology of sexual liberalism in public schools. “Why,” one will ask, “should fundamentalist parents be free to rear their children as little bigots?” Heather’s two mommies or Billy’s two mommies and three daddies are the keys to freeing children from parental “homophobia” and “polyphobia.
Kathryn Jean Lopez concludes the interview with a question of how name-calling and ad hominem attacks substitute for reason and evidence in the rhetoric of the new orthodoxy”

LOPEZ: Why should anyone care about this debate anymore? A man and a man can legally get married in New York. The die is cast. Besides, who wants to be an intolerant anti-civil-rights bigot — or so my inbox has called me all weekend, again.

Anyone in social work who has even attempted to explain the arguments for maintaining the integrity of marriage and the social harm done to women, children, men, the poor and society as a whole abandoning its legal recognition as a comprehensive union ordered to the having and rearing of children, will have experienced these defeatist sentiments. Students and colleagues, in my experience, are unable even to comprehend the argument or weigh the evidence, all claims to “critical thinking” notwithstanding.

Here is George’s response:
GEORGE: Well, people should care because the whole edifice of sexual-liberationist ideology is built on damaging and dehumanizing falsehoods. It has already done enormous harm — harm that falls on everybody, but disproportionately on those in the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of our society. If you doubt that, have a look at Myron Magnet’s great book The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties’ Legacy to the UnderclasThe Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties’ Legacy to the Underclasss, or some of the writings of Kay Hymowitz and other serious people who have examined the social consequences for the poor of the embrace of sexual liberalism by celebrities and other cultural elites. Marriage is a profound human and social good; its weakening and loss is a tragedy from which affluent people can be distracted (and protected) by their affluence for only so long. The institution of marriage has already been deeply wounded by divorce at nearly plague levels, widespread non-marital sexual cohabitation, and other damaging factors. To redefine it out of existence in law is to make it much more difficult to restore a sound understanding of marriage on which a healthy marriage culture can be rebuilt for the good of all. It is to sacrifice the needs of the poor, who are hurt the most when a sound public understanding of marriage and sexual morality collapses. It is to give up on the truth that children need both a father and mother, and benefit from the security of their love for each other.

So people are calling you “intolerant” and an “anti-civil-rights bigot”? Well, for those who have absorbed the premises of sexual liberation and embraced its dogmas so fanatically that they can’t fathom the possibility that any reasonable person of goodwill could dissent from them, that’s what people like you and me seem to be. Like overly impassioned believers at all times and in all places, these folks suppose that anyone who doubts the tenets of their faith must have malign motives. Dissenters from what they regard as an unquestionable orthodoxy must be “haters” (the modern word for “heretics”). It’s ironic — and amusing — that these folks regard themselves as urbane, sophisticated people — critical thinkers — who are much smarter and better informed (not to mention more “tolerant” and “open-minded”) than their opponents. In truth, they rarely have the foggiest notion of what the arguments are in support of the view they reject or what the intellectual challenges are for the view they hold. They already know the truth, and that’s that! So what need is there for reflection, study, deliberation, and debate? Why argue with “intolerant, anti-civil-rights bigots”? To the barricades!

Of course, there is an astonishing degree of ignorance on display in all this, especially when considered in proportion to the certitude and moral passion of sexual liberalism’s true believers. Perhaps it is too much to ask of them, but for those who might (perhaps secretly, when no “sophisticated,” “urbane” friends are looking) want to know why those of us on the other side dissent, and who might be willing to consider what we believe are the damning intellectual challenges that same-sex “marriage” advocates have not met and cannot meet, here again is the link to “What is Marriage?”

[For more on the post-Sixties phenomenon of the anti-Catholic Catholic, see Philip Jenkins’s excellent study, The New Anti-Catholicism]

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