The American culture wars strike me as astonishingly silly and yet deeply scary at the same time. It’s hard to say what recent volley is more bothersome to me.
Could it be people who are getting The Diary Of Anne Frank pulled from school curricula because of its sexually explicit content?
Or could it be people who are getting the dictionary pulled from classrooms because of its sexually explicit content?
Or maybe bigots who want to literally criminalize homosexuality here in the United States, based on a tortured reading of the Bible?
Or could it be my elected representatives, who really ought to know better, unthinkingly saying that he’s being “inclusive” when he proclaims his jurisdictions to be a “Christian city”? (Lots of details here.)
All of this “culture war” nonsense seems to be predominantly powered by a simplistic, aggressively evangelical, and intolerant brand of Christianity. Well, not all of it. There’s also Glenn Beck leading his Beckhead minions to decry fundamental principles of law. Hey, Glenn Beck — what you’re criticizing in that segment is what lawyers have been doing since 1066! It’s not anything new and it didn’t start with Roscoe Pound!*
I have a number of friends who are not religious or, among those who are religious, who somehow manage to not be frickin’ insane about it and respect that other people might want to live their lives in different ways than them. It is absolutely beyond me why anyone would want to reach in to my house or your house or anyone else’s house and tell them how to live their lives or what books to read or what religion they ought to publicly subscribe to.
I guess it’s useful to be roused out of my shell and realize that indeed there are lots and lots and lots of people out there who look out at the world and in particular our own nation and see something very, very different than I do. I may be getting a little bit too complacent, having found people with whom I have surrounded myself who do not demand that others conform in lockstep to their social example. I had thought that tolerance for other peoples’ choices and ideas and personal decisions was part of what it was to be a free people.
Godsdamn it, why can’t people just learn to mind their own business? That goes in both directions, but the aggression seems to be coming from the right rather than the left.
* If you want to criticize Roscoe Pound and his influence over American legal education, go right ahead. Pound didn’t invent the idea of case law analysis; he formalized a method of studying law through case law analysis that had been going on for clerks who were “reading the law” in private tutelage or Inns of Court for hundreds of years in the Anglo-American legal system, and that’s pretty well above criticism. What you could criticize Pound for is his exposition of indeterminacy as the inevitable result of the vicissitudes of political power as the foundational exponent of both statutory law and a politicized judicial nomination process. But that doesn’t make for a particularly good sound bite because pretty much only lawyers and political scientists even know what the previous sentence means.