Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gay marriage: constitutional revisionism is extremely dangerous

I have nothing against gays. My co-existence with gays has been very good and dozens of witnesses exist to confirm my extraordinary tolerance, to say the least. I think that there are biological reasons for gays' inclinations and these inclinations are compatible with their life or individual health.

A part of my understanding of the human freedom implies that people may insert their organs wherever they want – as long as they don't harm the freedom and dignity of others. And in a democratic system, voters or their elected representatives may ensure tax breaks for those who insert these organs at the right places. The desired frequency and locations may be specified in the illustrations embedded in the laws.

I won't think that they are wise if they do such things but nations surely have the right to establish their internal rules according to their tastes. In general, people in Czechia are extremely tolerant about these matters. Since 2006, we had "civil unions" for gays. But on the other hand, there exist virtually no "enthusiastic advocates" of homosexualism in my country, no "warriors" arguing that the unions have to be called "marriages". We may be just too mature or phlegmatic for such simple new forms of religion. Since the age of 10, Czechs generally know how babies are created etc.

But what I find unacceptable is the rewriting of the meaning of words and the meaning of laws and constitutions designed to achieve certain political goals.

A few days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-to-4 and prevented all U.S. states from banning gay marriage: full verdict including dissenting opinions. In particular, this has an effect on 15 or so states that were doing so as of this week. In practice, the Supreme Court declared gay marriage possible across the U.S.

What is stunning is that this is clearly a political and politically controversial decision – one that depends on people's opinions about "what is desirable to do with our country" – but the Supreme Court isn't supposed to make any political decisions of this character at all. It is an unelected group whose task is to use its expertise and make sure that everyone understands the laws written in the past and especially the constitution correctly.

You may read e.g. these quotes to have an idea about the kind of argumentation that was used by the champions of the pro-gay-marriage decision (whom I will refer to as the judicial crackpots) and the opponents (whom I will refer to as the competent judges).

A judicial crackpot – a member of the "majority" – wrote the following:
Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations, often through perspectives that begin in pleas or protests and then are considered in the political sphere and the judicial process.

The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest. With that knowledge must come the recognition that laws excluding same-sex couples from the marriage right impose stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by our basic charter.

People's understanding of marriage is not a matter of scientific progress, something that may evolve as people acquire a better knowledge. The term "marriage" and indeed, this very arrangement, is a "social construct". It is a term that had to be and has to be "defined" by humans in a certain way. And because the laws depend on it, a particular definition of the term has to exist for the laws to be well-defined. And be sure, one does exist.

One can't redefine the meaning of words that appear at important places of the constitution and the laws.

If someone has the power to redefine the meaning of the words as they appear in the laws, he has the de facto power to change the laws themselves. Mindless, enthusiastic supporters of the "gay marriage" meme may totally fail to see this highly worrisome point – because they just like this particular decision – but their happiness about a particular verdict can't make the very method that made such a decision less dangerous.

My and the competent judges' warning isn't just a speculation. You know, my homeland has quite some experience with regimes that have redefined the meaning of the words. For example, did we have democracy after the February 1948 communist coup in Czechoslovakia? You bet! We had not only ordinary democracy. We had the improved democracy – the people's democracy – with all the Leninist and Stalinist additions. A democracy in which the people are so powerful that they may easily hang everyone whom the people don't like. A democracy that works so well that people no longer have to make the hard decisions themselves – the Stalinist apparatchik do them on their behalf. The West should have learned democracy from us.

In communist Czechoslovakia, we have also had the freedom of speech. However, in Switzerland, they also had the freedom after the speech. ;-)

I could give you many less grandiose examples of words whose meaning was redefined in order to make the undemocratic, inhuman, and profoundly ineffective system to survive. Indeed, since the late 1940s, the system pretty much existed within the laws that were valid in the democratic Czechoslovakia in between the wars. With some distortion of the meaning of the words that is guaranteed by certain people's power, one can get very far. The same comment applies to the Nazi era in Germany.

For example, exactly 65 years ago, in 1950, a brave female anti-communist politician and intellectual Dr Milada Horáková was hanged by the communists in Czechoslovakia's most famous judicial murder. The laws that were quoted to defend this decision and similar decisions were partly if not mostly the same laws that had already existed in the democratic Czechoslovakia. Their meaning was just improved to allow the totalitarianism to run at full steam.

It is also easy to invent lots of other speculative examples of the profound change of the society that may be "codified" by someone who has the power to redefine the meaning of the words. For example, the laws allow the government to collect taxes. Why can't our "understanding" of the word "taxes" evolve, too? Taxes were only about the money but this places the money in a special, undeserved role.

Aside from 15% of your money, the government may also collect 15% of the time (or more: I avoided more realistic, higher numbers to save you from vomiting about the reality). 15% of your time, you may have to spend by work for the government according to the government's instructions. The left-wing government may order you to parrot its popular pseudoscientific superstitions about global warming for 3 hours a day. If you refuse to participate, you will be arrested for tax evasion.

Needless to say, the equality of the people could be heavily overinterpreted if someone had the power to do so (and it is actually taking place all the time). This gay marriage a special example of that. Wealth of excessively rich people may be confiscated to achieve "equality of wealth". Excessively smart people may be poisoned by strongly IQ-reducing chemicals for them to drop at the level of global warming alarmists or chimps. I don't want to continue with these silly examples for too long. The point is:

If you have any imagination and you look at virtually any sentence in the constitution or in any law, you must immediately see how brutally it could be abused by someone who has the power to redefine the meaning of the words.

The people who authored the laws about marriage meant a very particular thing. In more specific laws, this concept is described in detail. One may informally use words with a distorted meaning – the language is evolving, indeed – but when one talks about serious matters such as the law, one must attribute the right meanings to the words and the right meanings are those that were meant by the authors of the laws.

So the judicial crackpots' opinion simply can't be equally good as the opinion of the competent judges – or mine. What they are saying about the term "marriage" is just pure rubbish from a professional viewpoint. Marriage means a particular union between two people of opposite sexes. This is what the term means legally and this is what your humble correspondent and billions of people on Earth – including hundreds of millions of Americans – will always mean by the term "marriage". You can't make them change their idea about the meaning of the word. They are not only free but after all, they are also totally right and you are totally wrong.

The only ethically and systemically acceptable method to allow unions of gay to be covered as "marriage" is to change the law – and probably the Constitution, too. In democracy, such a change requires a certain political support among the electorate and their representatives. Some people will agree with such a change if it takes place, some people will disagree with it but at least the creepy totalitarian methods are avoided.

Another, slightly different point. Judicial crackpot Kennedy defended the verdict by an "inconsistency" somewhere in the laws:
The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest.
Sorry but there is absolutely no inconsistency in the actual text of the Constitution – just mushed potatoes in the judicial crackpots' skulls. Marriage is limited to opposite-sex couples because that's how the word is defined, or at least and more importantly, it's the definition that was used by the actual authors of the Constitution and other laws. The original authors of the Constitution and the laws wouldn't see the post-decision world as an "evolved form of their legal framework"; they would see it as an unambiguously illegal state of affairs. (And almost every other human in the world at least in between 2000 BC and 2000 AD would think that the new "definition" of the "marriage" is insane, too.) And everyone with a respect to the rule of law must adopt their interpretation! A law with a significantly different "interpretation" of the words is simply not the same law.

This definition of the verb "marry" in no way strips gays of their fundamental right to marry. Definitions may never achieve such a thing; only statements/commandments may do so. But according to all the statements/commandments, they may still marry. They won't necessarily be equally happy and aroused once they are married. But this is not the fault of the Constitution. It's not the Constitution that makes someone more aroused and someone less aroused. It's Nature and specific characteristics of individual people.

When someone is likely to enjoy marriage less than others, it doesn't mean that the judges or someone else is obliged to change the meaning of the word "marriage". Someone is less excited by mathematics than others – but that surely doesn't mean that we should change the meaning of mathematics, does it? Should we change what "mathematics" means to make it more attractive for those who dislike what is called "mathematics" today?

Even this example is worrisome because the kind of soft postmodernist culture, the people with the mushy pseudothinking who are happy to rewrite the history (about the flags and especially more important things) and change the meaning of the words, often want not only to change the meaning of the word "marriage". Yes, they would like to change the meaning of "mathematics", "physics", and almost everything else that has some value, too. They would love to extend the definition of all these words that mean something good and proud so that the definition also covers the less important things, the trash, and stupidity that they are associated with so that the words no longer remind them about their inferiority.

If a new definition of "mathematics" also includes "2+2=5", it's great for those who believe that 2+2=5. If "quantum mechanics" is redefined to cover the delusions of the anti-quantum zealots, it's great for them because they may suggest that they know something about quantum mechanics even though they don't have a clue. There are movements fighting to redefine not only "marriage" but also "mathematics", "physics", "science", "music", "success" etc. etc. so that those terms also include "sodomy", "innumeracy", "Lee Smolin's papers", "Peter Woit's rants about falsifiability", "rap", "failure" etc. respectively. In all these cases, the goal is to make a much broader set of people proud and remove the special original character of the words – the important things they stood for – and the people associated with the original meaning of the words.

Societies that fail to stop this degenerative process in time are destined to lose what's good and special about them and to become a pile of putrefying junk. Societies that allow mobs to redefine the words and therefore the meaning of the laws as well inevitably become societies where the power doesn't belong to the wise and careful majorities. Competent judges Scalia (whose critique [full] of the decision was at least as harsh as mine), Roberts, and others are fully aware of the dangerous dynamics that has been dramatically accelerating in the U.S. in recent years and I would subscribe to every sentence in their "dissenting" opinions. However, such sensible people are being increasingly marginalized by the judicial crackpots and similar standard-free, dishonest, manipulative people all over the society as the low-quality stuff is spreading all around us and claims to be on par with the high-quality stuff if not better.

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