I was going to write a post on this myself, but Deconstructing Leftism has already done it.
You have probably been reading a little about Christians freaking out about gay marriage now being legal and their beliefs now being essentially illegal. Rod Dreher has spurred some discussion with his articles on the “Benedict Option”, in which Christians will withdraw partially from the mainstream culture to protect their own culture and beliefs.
The thing is the system has had the same way of dealing with dissenters for 60 years or so, and most Christians have been perfectly fine with it. I think Rod would applaud if someone was fired from their job for expressing doubts or disagreement with the ideas of racial equality or gender equality.
Of course- of course– we have free speech in the US. It’s the First Amendment! Enshrined in the Constitution! The government cannot penalize you for expressing yourself in speech or writing! However, we also have civil rights laws, and any person not expressing full belief in racial or gender equality- or, over the last few years, gay equality- can’t be in any kind of decision-making position in supervising employees, renting or selling housing, or loaning money, because he may violate these laws. Since his presence may create a “hostile workplace” he can’t even be employed, strictly speaking.
Associating with such a person is a strong indicator you hold such beliefs yourself, so you must not associate with him, and if he is shown to be a racist or sexist you must immediately disassociate yourself. Better yet to make a point of socially condemning and mocking him. And who wants to be associated with an unemployed, broke, weirdo loser anyway?
Again- Rod Dreher is probably perfectly fine with this…
The Civil Rights movement introduced a new paradigm for American politics. On other issues, even when one side wins, victory cannot be pressed too far; life must be kept bearable for the other side; politics is fundamentally a matter of tradeoffs and balancing conflicting legitimate interests. Racists and segregationists, on the other hand, deserve no civility. They have no legitimate interests. The federal government is designing a vast apparatus to make sure they aren’t even left alone in their own neighborhoods. The schools teach their own children to hate them.
I have indeed read quite a few laments from Christians that opposition to gay marriage is now being equated with racism, and they always stress that of course racists deserve to be persecuted; it’s just that we’re nothing like them. But we are. (And not just people like me, who are explicitly Christian and racist.) We’re both heretics from liberalism.
As readers know, I have no problem with the idea of a communal consensus, and I affirm the duty to defend it via censorship. I’m surprised that, rereading my defense of censorship in light of 21st century praxis, it now reads almost like a libertarian document. I at least never grant communities the right to dictate private opinions, nor do I allow them any reason not to be satisfied with silence as opposed to coerced affirmation. The main problem with persecuting racists is that they are persecuted not for deviation from Christian orthodoxy, but for deviation from liberalism. This is even more obvious in the case of persecuting sexists, since Christianity, being a patriarchal religion, obviously doesn’t delegitimate all gender role differences. And yet mainstream Christians went along with it, even thanking our godless egalitarian fellow citizens for helping us understand the morality of the Gospels better, without thinking that we thereby accepted the principle of our own condemnation.
Resistance has crumbled. There is no longer any major issue open for debate. As soon as an issue can be framed as a “civil rights” issue, the illiberal side loses all legitimacy, and indeed all claim to immunity against the persecution of its members. (Although, in accord with the 1st Amendment, the state is careful to deliver heretics over to the private arm for punishment.) And–what do you know!–it turns out just about every issue can be framed as a civil rights issue.
Liberalism means tolerance. Tolerance means no intolerance. Therefore, to be perfectly tolerant, liberals must eradicate all dissent.