The St. Croix Review speaks for middle America, and brings you essays from patriotic Americans.
Alvan Shane writes from and lives in California.
Let's examine crime as defined in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary:
Crime, an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law, that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law; a gross violation of law; a grave offense, especially against morality; something reprehensible, foolish or distasteful.
Nothing in this definition requires than an individual be convicted of his or her misdeed in a court of law. It's sufficient just to know a misdeed was done, making it a crime, and making the individual ipso-facto an outside-the-law practitioner, an outlaw.
We live in a time when many of our political class obviously indulge in outlaw behaviors and are hardly ever are brought up on charges or held accountable, even for gross dereliction of their public office. When challenged they shrug it off, with barely a spot on their reputations: Only who you are and which side of the aisle you're on matter.
In another time malefactors may have been convicted and sent to prison, ending careers and privileges. Bill Clinton might have been impeached and convicted of multiple sexual assaults, in which case he'd be cooling his heels right now in some Club Fed for the duration, never to bother us again.
Hillary Clinton is a political outlaw, and an unindicted co-conspirator with her husband. She was in incompetent as Secretary of State, responsible, and possibly criminally negligent in the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. She was feckless and arrogantly broke with standing protocol regarding communications and secrecy, electing to use her own private email system regardless of the risk to national security.
There are countless examples of her deceits, distractions, and lies. She's been beside her husband from the beginning, aiding and abetting his deceits and crimes. She did her novice-attorney best to bring down President Richard Nixon during the Watergate hearings but was fired in the process for misbehavior and unethical conduct. She tried unsuccessfully to commandeer our entire health care system while First Lady, costing taxpayers millions. She made a quick fortune in cattle futures, while not knowing what they were. She lied and tried to cover up her involvement in the White Water scandal, misplacing her billing records from her days at the Rose Law Firm.
She went ruthlessly after the women who so enamored her husband, doing everything possible to impugn their integrity. She struggled mightily to cast off any notion Bill Clinton was the alpha predator and adulterer he clearly was. For thirty years the press has allowed her to "bask" in the glow of her husband's charisma and celebrity. They said she was the brains behind his charm, the enforcer behind his persona, and now the heir apparent to the presidency.
Hillary is a usurper of our trust, a shrewd exploiter of position and power, a pretender to nobility, an interloper, who has no purpose other than the ambition to be president of the U.S. She is a true socialist who wants bigger government, to tax the rich and redistribute their wealth. It was hypocritical of her to demonize Mitt Romney, who actually worked hard for his money, while she and her husband used power and influence to fleece friend and foe for their ill-gotten gains.
Hillary Clinton is unfit to be president; the Benghazi attack alone proves the point. Like Lady Macbeth she has blood on her hands. Her arrogance is beyond belief. It's nauseating. She has no sense of propriety, she has no sense for the grandeur of office. She is not to be trusted, cares only for herself, and would bring shame and ruin to our great country.
America is ready for a woman president - just not this woman! *
The foundations of economic freedom are weakening around the world, according to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation, and The Wall Street Journal. Particularly concerning is the rise of populist "democratic" movements that use the coercive power of government to redistribute income and control economic activity. . . .
wrote Ambassador Terry Miller, in The Wall Street Journal on January 9, 2013. Earlier this year, an article in the Economist, "Venezuela: The Revolution at Bay" (February 14, 2015), confirmed the truthfulness of that warning issued by the Heritage Foundation two years ago.
"Sixteen years after Hugo Chavez took power in Venezuela, and two years after he died," said the report in The Economist:
. . . his "Bolivarian Revolution" faces the gravest threats yet to its survival. The regime is running out of money to import necessities and pay its debts. There are shortages of basic goods, from milk and flour to shampoo and disposable nappies. Queues, often of several hundred people, form each day outside supermarkets. Ten patients of the University Hospital in Caracas died over the Christmas period because of a shortage of heart valves.
Despite being the beneficiary of the greatest oil boom in history, receiving around $800 billion in oil revenue between 2000 and 2012, "or two-and-a-half times as much in real terms as in the previous 13 years," the report continued:
He [Chavez] spent the money on "21st century socialism.". . . As well as rewarding supporters with State jobs (the public payroll has more than doubled in 16 years), Chavez expropriated or nationalised 1,200 companies, from steelworks to a maker of cleaning products. Most now lose money or require government loans just to meet their payroll, according to Victor Alvarez, Chavez's industry minister in 2005-06. The state subjugates the still large private sector through price controls, which discourage investment and production. The result is that Venezuela imports much of the food and consumer goods it used to produce, though not enough to meet demand.
Finally, notes The Economist, growing political repression has accompanied the socialist erosion of economic freedom in Venezuela:
The authoritarian state he [Chavez's successor Maduro] commands is sliding towards totalitarianism. . . . Chavez seized control of the judiciary and all the other constitutionally independent branches of the State. . . . Under Mr. Maduro, what the government calls its "media hegemony" is now all but complete. Regime insiders, acting through front men, have bought up opposition media after these were financially weakened by officially promoted advertising boycotts and government refusal to approve the import of newsprint.
None of this would have come as a surprise to those resisting the spread of socialist ideas in pre-World War I Britain. During the preceding half century, classical liberal thinkers had warned that the growth of democracy would encourage the politics of plunder at the expense of productive minorities and individuals (See my Cobden Centre paper: Vindicated by History: Statism's 19th Century Critics, December 9, 2012). Their ideological successors repeated these warnings during the first decades of the 20th century, at a time when socialism was becoming the dominant ideology of the British labour movement, and the newly formed British Labour Party was becoming an increasingly potent political force in central and local government.
Leading the anti-socialist resistance, was the Anti-Socialist Union (ASU), an amalgam of disparate groups alarmed by the growing threat of big government to property rights and liberty. Establishing its London headquarters in 1908, in the former Victoria Street home of Sir Arthur Sullivan, the composer and famous partner of N S. Gilbert, the ASU launched a national campaign of popular education to inoculate British public opinion against the virus of socialism. This objective was pursued during the inter-war years, in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917. (For a detailed history of the ASU, see: Kenneth D. Brown, Essays in Anti-Labour History, London: Macmillan, 1974, pp. 234 - 261).
To achieve its educational goals, the ASU produced a huge quantity of anti-socialist literature, including a regular newspaper, the Anti-Socialist (later renamed Liberty). In addition, it set up a central speakers' school to train lecturers to carry the intellectual fight against socialism into every corner of Britain. In this way, the ASU deliberately aimed to counter the propaganda of the increasingly influential Fabian Society, established in 1883 as the intellectual socialist wing of the British labour movement. To that end, the ASU's two months training course gave students
. . . a basic training in public speaking, elementary economics, politics, and the history and fallacies of socialism. After oral and written examinations the best of the students were creamed off and offered full-time posts (Kenneth D. Brown, op. cit., p. 242).
During the second general election of 1910, only two years after the ASU's formation, 250 ASU lecturers were already at work in different parts of Britain, and over five tons of anti-socialist literature were distributed to the general public. A decade later, in the immediate post-war period of 1919 - 1923, the ASU claimed to have held nearly 10,000 meetings and it was estimated that 20 million people a year were being reached by its literature.
What was impressive about this early 20th century British anti-socialist movement, was not only its dedication and activism in the service of freedom, but also the prophetic and scholarly nature of its wide-ranging critique of socialism. Just as the formation of the ASU foreshadowed the educational mission of contemporary libertarian and conservative organisations like FEE, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, so too its literature anticipated some of the key themes of their contemporary indictment of state intervention and big government.
The single best example of this was the publication in 1908 of The Case Against Socialism: A Handbook for Speakers and Candidates (reprinted by Bibliobazaar, 2013, 537 pages). Originally produced by the London Municipal Society, one of the ASU's member organisations, with revised editions published by the ASU under slightly altered titles in 1911 and 1914, the Handbook offered a comprehensive and well-documented refutation of the socialist attack on capitalism, as well as a closely reasoned critical examination of the socialist agenda. In doing so, it drew on the work of a number of contemporary anti-socialist scholars, especially the writings of W. H. Mallock (1849 - 1923), a leading British conservative thinker whose many books included Property and Progress (1884) - a critique of Henry George - and A Critical Examination of Socialism (1908).
The central theme running through the ASU Handbook was expressed in eight simple words in italics on the inside of its "Contents" page: "Economic rights form the bulwark of human liberties," a truth highlighted in today's world, not only by the Heritage Foundation's annual global surveys of economic and political freedom, but also by those compiled by the Fraser Institute and Freedom House.
In keeping with this central insight, the Handbook exposed the falsity of the socialist claim that capitalism breeds mass poverty and exploitation, and drove home the message that the collectivisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange - the core of the socialist programme - would inevitably lead to misery and tyranny. In a socialist economy where all jobs and resources would be controlled by the State, it would not only become impossible to exercise personal choice or express political dissent, argued the Handbook; but it would also result in the frustration of creativity, the destruction of incentives, and the creation of an all-powerful and oppressive ruling bureaucracy. Thus, in the very act of seeking to end all existing poverty and class divisions, the socialist pursuit of "equality" would simply intensify the very evils it was intended to abolish.
To quote the ASU Handbook's powerful conclusion:
. . . the lives and happiness of the millions of our fellow-countrymen and women, the industries of our land, the products of years of mental and bodily toil, the future of our children - all these are the stake with which the Socialists would gamble - and for what? For the annihilation of private wealth, in order to win an equality of misery and of poverty; for the overthrow of personal freedom, so that the tyranny of officialdom might be firmly enthroned. . . . All these must be the inevitable concomitants of Socialism triumphant" (ASU Handbook, p. 529).
That these words were written in 1908, nine years before the Russian Revolution and its creation of the first of many totalitarian socialist states, is a tribute to their perspicacity. The persistence today of socialist dictatorships in countries like Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela, to name only a few, underlines their continuing relevance. *
Paul J. McNulty is the ninth President of Grove City College, in Grove City Pennsylvania, and a former deputy attorney general of the United States. This article first appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Vision & Values, the web site published by Grove City College.
The Department of Education has released its "College Scorecard," a searchable college-affordability database that President Obama described as containing "reliable data on every institution of higher education."
Unfortunately, that simply isn't true.
I can say so as a president of a college that was excluded from the scorecard. That fact poses risks to institutional autonomy, and it might shape the American higher education landscape in unexpected, negative ways.
Nearly two centuries ago, writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr penned the words, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." For Grove City College - a private liberal arts college that in 1984 fought a higher education legal battle with the Department of Education all the way to the Supreme Court - this epigram is all too real. And once again, Grove City must respond to the long arm of the federal government in higher education.
Because we do not accept federal financial aid as a matter of principle, Grove City has been excluded from the scorecard.
We understand that accepting federal student aid opens colleges and universities to a myriad of federal regulations. Our 1984 Supreme Court case, Grove City College v. Bell, was about freedom from intrusive and expensive federal regulation. We decided to raise private support and use private student loans to maintain independence from the federal government.
Today, most Americans might find it admirable that our 2,500 students do not take federal tax dollars to fund their degrees. Yet, sadly, the American people cannot learn about Grove City via the Education Department's scorecard - despite Obama's boast. That means students are not learning about a valuable educational choice.
Ironically, as the regulatory burden on higher education increases, our independence as an institution has increased in importance and economic value. Our tuition is far below the national average, 95 percent of our last two graduating classes were employed or in graduate school within six months and our alumni earnings are in the top quartile nationally.
In 2013, before settling on the scorecard, the Obama administration proposed a comprehensive federal ratings system to measure accessibility, affordability, and outcomes at all American colleges and universities. The results would have determined institutional eligibility for participation in the federal student aid program. Smaller private colleges that focus on classroom teaching tend to be tuition-dependent, making federal student aid their financial lifeblood. Poor performance on the proposed ratings system would have spelled doom for many private colleges, thereby diminishing a great strength of the American system of higher education - its institutional diversity.
The proposed ratings system eventually was scrapped in response to the objections from the higher education community, yet shades of its heavy-handed determinism remain in the scorecard. The federal government now is the purveyor of an official web site that sanctions one set of institutional performance criteria in a one-size-fits-all manner.
The danger is that the public will view the scorecard as an objective consumer information tool, and colleges will focus on the outcomes contained therein to the detriment of other less quantifiable - but equally important - institutional objectives.
In addition to financial indicators, Grove City measures the value of education by the holistic value it provides to our students, the nation, the world - and the common good.
Performance metrics and accountability in higher education are critical to quality and public confidence. As the public evaluates the scorecard, it would be wise to consider the cost of the expanded federal role it represents.
Grove City College has demonstrated that excellence does not have to be bankrolled by the government. We believe the public, upon further review, will conclude that appropriate measures of educational quality do not have to be decreed by the government, either. *
We have learned that John A. Howard, the former President of Rockford College and veteran of W.W. II, passed away this August at the age of ninety-three. John Howard was a long-time supporter of and a greatly appreciated author for The St. Croix Review.
All societies, primitive and advanced, Communist and free, have to provide education for the children to learn how to live responsibly in their own society. This is the central and totally essential element in education. Three-quarters of this speech is preliminary. The last quarter of it will attend to the title.
Choosing a college is not easy these days because there are so many of them and they are so expensive. Even more important - much more important - the ideals, the values, the priorities, the character of the friends, the pastimes in the life pattern, the importance of religion - all these aspects of the student's life at college are likely to affect the whole pattern of life after college.
Charles de Montesquieu was a Frenchman who is widely regarded as one of the wisest and most influential political philosophers since Classical Greece and Rome. His most important book was The Spirit of the Laws, published in 1748. It was well known to America's Founding Fathers, and key aspects of that analysis were incorporated into the American Constitution.
That book analyzed and compared various forms of government. Every government, like every other formal association of people, be it a kindergarten, a family, a business or a nation, has to have some means of influence over its members so that they will do what the group needs them to do to carry out the group's purposes.
A government in which one person is the ruler and decides what will and what won't happen in that country is a despotism or a tyranny. Fear is the human motive that causes the people to do and not do what the government requires of them. They know that if they refuse to follow orders, they are subject to imprisonment, torture, or other severe penalties.
A self-governing nation, Montesquieu stated, is the best form of government, and the most difficult one to establish and sustain because it can only operate successfully with a virtuous population. Each citizen must voluntarily abide by innumerable standards of conduct: lawfulness, honesty, truthfulness, fairness, patriotism, respect for the rights of other people, the fulfillment of the obligations of being a marriage partner and raising the children and many, many other requirements. There is nothing in human nature which causes the individual to be virtuous and conscientious. Each new generation must be trained to be responsible citizens. Once the free society is well-established, the daily life of the family and the society is such that becoming virtuous is not a monstrous chore for the young people. It comes naturally, like learning to speak the language, but the virtuous life has to be continuously reinforced by the cultural elements of the society. I want to repeat that. Virtue must be continuously reinforced by the culture.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who lived three centuries before Christ. He also is widely considered one of the wisest and most influential thinkers of Western culture. With regard to government he said:
. . . Of all the things I have mentioned, that which contributes most to the permanence of Constitutions is the adaptation of education to the form of government.
The American nation was uniquely and overwhelmingly blessed in that the Pilgrim settlers of New England may have been the most virtuous group of people alive. They had dared to embark with their families on a relatively small boat to cross the dangerous Atlantic Ocean and settle in a wilderness, possibly inhabited by hostile natives, where there were no buildings, no stores, and certainly no medical facilities. During the year after they arrived, half of the hundred Pilgrim settlers had died. That treacherous venture was inspired by a determination to find a place to live in which they could carry on their Christian worship free from the persecution of the British Government. The degree to which Christianity dominated their lives is reflected in the following quotation.
The strict observance of the Sabbath was perhaps the most striking characteristic of this colony and of others of its time. Work ceased on Saturday after three o'clock, and the rest of the day was spent in learning the catechism and preparing for the Sabbath. [A catechism is a summary of Christian principles phrased in the form of questions and answers for teaching purposes.] The morning of the Sabbath was begun by home worship, and then at nine o'clock the Meetinghouse bell summoned every citizen to public service, only the sick and disabled being excused. The Meetinghouse was a crude, humble structure, built of logs chinked with clay or moss, with a thatched roof. It was surrounded by a stonewall or fort for protection against sudden attack by Indians. Every man above eighteen years of age brought his firearms to church, and sentinels paced their beat outside during the service. There were no pews, only benches, and the men and women sat on different sides of the aisle. . . . The service was long and solemn.
About two in the afternoon a second service was begun, followed by the baptism of children, which was an important ceremony, as Puritan babies were invariably taken to church for baptism on the first Sunday after birth, no matter how inclement the weather. At sunset the Sabbath was ended.
Stern and forbidding as that old worship appears at the present day, yet beneath it all we discover that simple, unswerving fidelity to Conscience and the Bible which compelled those men to make their Sabbath what it was. In that rugged spiritual soil were planted the seeds of a religious character which has exerted its influence on all their descendants, and we cannot help reverencing and respecting them for their consistency. [Incidentally this account of Pilgrim life was written in 1917.]1
In the colonies, the church and the family trained the children in Christian behavior which incorporated the standards of virtue required for the free society. On through the centuries of the settling of the American nation, each new community built a church and a school to train new generations for responsible living in their society.
The education of pre-college students in the 19th century was dominated nationwide by the textbooks written by William McGuffey. He was a Presbyterian Minister who became a university president. Beginning in 1836, The McGuffey Readers were used in American public schools. By 1963, 125 million copies had been sold over a period of 117 years. They taught vocabulary and basic reading and writing skills, but the main purpose was to teach Christianity and moral behavior. The books were filled with little stories that illustrate a moral principle. Reinforcing the virtuous life was the theme of McGuffey's texts.
What follows is an excerpt from a 1979 report published by the Hastings Foundation. The author is Columbia University Professor Douglas Sloan.
Throughout most of the 19th Century the most important course in the college curriculum was moral philosophy taught usually by the college president and required of all students.
The full significance of moral philosophy in the 19th Century curriculum can only be understood in the light of the assumption held by American leaders and most ordinary citizens that no nation could survive, let alone prosper, without common moral and social values.
However moral philosophy did not carry the whole burden of forming the students' character and conduct; the entire college experience was meant above all to be an experience in character development and the moral life.2
Fast forward to World War II. At that time, American education still engaged in character education. I graduated from high school in 1939. In the public grade school and the junior high school I attended, the morning began with an assembly for all the teachers and students in the auditorium. First, there was a prayer followed by a talk about some famous American, or an event from American history, and then a patriotic song. After announcements, people dispersed to the classrooms.
During those years there were already powerful forces aggressively pushing for radical changes in the American nation and American schooling. In the 1912 election, the Socialist Party had a membership of 118,000. It received 900,000 votes that year and elected 56 socialist mayors. After World War II the radicalizing of American education proceeded swiftly and unceasingly. The profound turmoil of the radicals on the college campuses in the 1960s, spray-painting and burning campus buildings, shouting down speakers, defying the military draft, spreading the use of mind-altering drugs, celebrating the filthy speech and slovenly dress movements, occupying the offices of university presidents and so on, was so devastating that President Nixon appointed a White House Task Force on Priorities in Higher Education. The sixteen members included the presidents of the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Vanderbilt, Tuskegee Institute, and the University of Minnesota. I was then President of Rockford College and was a member.
We were called to the White House and given our marching orders by the White House Chief of Staff, Dr. Arthur Berns. He said the President wanted us to make proposals about what the Government might do to calm things down on the campuses so the academic community could get on with its proper work. We met off and on for a year and a half and gathered at New York University, where the President, Dr. James Hester, was our chairman. He distributed copies of the report that had been prepared by the Task Force staff. It said the government could help by providing funds for six different aspects of college operations and for special groups of students, and by creating a National Academy of Higher Education. Dr. Hester asked what we thought of it. Everyone said it was just fine. I raised my hand. Dr. Hester said, "What is it, John?" I said I was astounded by the report and the reaction to it.
We are supposed to represent all the colleges and universities of America and there isn't one item in the report that attends to the request of the President
"Explain your concern, John," said the chairman.
We seem to be fighting a war in Vietnam. People are raising a huge fuss on the campuses about the war's legitimacy. The government needs to provide a periodic and extensive reporting to the colleges and to the nation on what we are trying to do, and why, and how it is progressing. Faculty and student revolutionaries are causing us all kinds of trouble. What are the organizations that are engaged in the destructive acts and what can we do about them? We have a serious problem with mind-altering drugs.
One of the members interrupted:
John, all these things involve value judgments. We can't commit ourselves to policies involving value judgments.
Nonindent: The others agreed with him. I said if that's the case we might as well close the colleges. The report was adopted with one dissenting vote. Mine. That was 1970.
An institutional policy of value-neutrality, or non-judgmentalism, had already banished right and wrong on many campuses. Let me provide just one other instance of the earthquake that had laid waste to the marvelous academic program that had for centuries trained Americans in virtue. In 1968, the American Council on Education published a report on a study about the purposes of universities. A questionnaire was sent to 10,000 faculty members and administrators at 68 universities. They received more than 7,000 usable answers. The respondents were asked what are the purposes of your university and what should they be? The questionnaire included a comprehensive list of possible answers. The tabulated results showed that the number one purpose, outdistancing all others by a wide margin, was "To protect the faculty's right to academic freedom." That was also number one as to what should be the purpose. Number two was to maintain the prestige of the university.
Only one of the top seven goals involved the students. It was "Training the students for scholarship and research."3
Educating the students used to be the purpose of the colleges and universities. There couldn't be a more stunning proof that in universities, the professors place their own careers above everything else.
I am confident that college faculties, in contrast to universities, would have answered that questionnaire quite differently. Before offering my list of suggestions about college selection, here are a few generalities. The colleges and universities that are regarded as the very best in the country are almost all value-neutral and non-judgmental like those represented on the White House Task Force. It's my impression that at state universities, the schools of medicine, business administration, engineering, agriculture, etc. where sensible people are training themselves for careers, radicals have far less influence than at the Ivy League Universities. Also the junior colleges are primarily devoted to serving the students.
Now, here are nine suggestions about college choice.
1. Subscribe to the student newspaper of any college that interests you at least two months before it is decision time.
2. Visit the campus and have a meal in a college dining facility to sense the atmosphere.
3. Check out what is posted on the bulletin boards.
4. Ask about a campus policy regarding marijuana and other mind-altering drugs, and, if there is one, is it enforced?
5. Stop in at the chapel and find out if there are regular services and how well they are attended. Are the hymns traditional or contemporary? Visit with the chaplain if possible.
6. Learn who were the prominent guest speakers during the year and who gave the Commencement Address.
7. Are there co-ed dormitories?
8. Is patriotism important on campus, because it should be.
9. Read the statement of purpose in the college or university catalog before you visit and raise any questions you have when you get there.
I hope these suggestions are helpful to you.
1William J. Lamson, Descendants of William Lamson of Ipswich, Massachusetts (New York, NY: Tobias A. Wright, 1917).
2 Douglas Sloan, The Teaching of Ethics in the American Curriculum 1876-1976, The Hastings Center Report, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, NY, December 1979, pp. 21-23.
3 The book reporting in this study is University Goals and Academic Power, Edward Gross and Paul Grambsch, American Council on Education, Washington DC, 1968, pp. 30, 31. *
Thomas Martin is the O. K. Bouwsma Chair in Philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Along with his fellow colleagues who are dedicated to the study of the Great Books, he teaches the works of Plato, Aristotle, and G. K. Chesterton.
A long-time friend recently asked, "Tom, are your students in Introduction to Philosophy at UNK any better than thirty years ago when you began teaching?"
"No," I replied, "they are like students in every age - they were born ignorant." It does not matter if it's 2015, 1985 or 360 B. C. However, there are always some students who are better prepared for college than others.
(I am forever thankful for the parents and conscientious teachers who are intent on developing young peoples' minds before I have the privilege of reading philosophy with them.)
Nevertheless, freshmen are a work-in-progress. I am at the university to help them on their way to having a meaningful life by introducing them to what it means to have a well-ordered soul, guided by reason, by focusing on the moral principles introduced in Plato's Republic.
"Is it hard to keep their attention?" my friend asked.
"Not at all. Socrates knows how to awaken students through discussions on the primary things of life."
For example, in Republic, a dialogue between Socrates and several young men, who are the age of my students, takes place at Polemarchus' house. His father, Cephalus, is present, and Socrates begins the dialogue, which quickly becomes a discussion on the nature of justice - how it is good, in and of itself, for the city-state and everyman's soul.
At first the young men do not seem interested, but Socrates draws them in by asking Cephalus for advice on life - given he is old. He says that when many of his friends gather, they complain about the lost pleasures of youth, of eating, drinking and having sex.
In developing his answer he gives the example of a young man asking the playwright Sophocles, "How are you as far as sex goes, Sophocles? Can you still make love to a woman?"
(My students are all ears - "Sex on the first day!")
Sophocles answers,"Quiet, man, I am very glad to have escaped from all that, like a slave who has escaped from a savage and tyrannical master." I thought at the time he was right, and still do, for old age brings peace and freedom from such things. When the appetites relax and cease to importune, everything Sophocles said comes to pass, and we escape many mad masters. In these matters, the real cause isn't old age, Socrates, but the way people live. If they are moderate and content, old age, too, is only moderately onerous; if they aren't, both old age and youth are hard to bear.
So begins the semester with the question: Is sex a mad master?
Socrates introduces the concept of function, as in a thing's purpose, and virtue, how well it fulfills its purpose, to the dialogue to explicate how to overcome the tyrannical master of sexual desire enslaving anyone who cannot control himself.
What is the function of my coffee cup?
To hold coffee and keep it warm.
The virtue of the coffee cup is if it does it well.
What is the function a student?
What is the virtue of a student?
To study well.
What is the function of the sexual organs?
What is the virtue of the sexual organs?
To use them well.
What happens to the function of the sexual organs when they are under the rule of the tyrannical master?
Sophocles sees that being led by sexual desires is like treating these organs (to put it in modern terms) as a PlayStation or a Game Boy with the mad master of lust controlling the buttons.
This is a form of slavery that cannot be overcome with an Emancipation Proclamation, but only through self-control.
Moral: If you cannot control yourself, you will be controlled by a tyrannical master. *
The following is an exchange is between Mark E. Mishanie, a subscriber to The St. Croix Review, and Michael S. Swisher, the Chairman of the Board of Religion and Society, the foundation that publishes The St. Croix Review.
Islamic ideology must be ultimately defeated. ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, etc., are only outgrowths of it. Sad to say, most people are still ignorant about this.
They talk about radical Islam as being the problem. That is wrong. The problem is with Islamic culture. The way Westerners view it, there is a problem with a minority of Muslims, the terrorists. The rest are good and peace loving. Look at Islamic countries. Look how they treat women: Women have no voice. They are forced to wear veils, forced to have children, raped, beaten, not given any political voice. These countries still allow for polygamy. They can stone to death a woman for adultery. They can jail and kill a person for being gay. They can chop a person's hand off for stealing. Beheadings are normal. Jews and Christians are viewed as enemies in their midst with ties to infidel Europe, America, and Israel.
What to do? Condemn them for the way they live and think and don't stop. End the tolerance of their barbaric practices. It is time to call out their ideology and bring them into the modern world. We cannot be afraid to speak the truth.
I am not saying that there should be no Islam. We need to destroy its archaic belief system and bring them into our world. Until that is done, we will have problems, America will have problems, Europe will have problems, Israel will have problems. If this is not done, destroying ISIS will have few consequences in the long run.
- Mark E. Mishanie
There is truth in what Mr. Mishanie says but the solution he advances is easier said than done.
Religions aren't just the words of their sacred scriptures or liturgies (whatever those may be) but also the experience and traditions that have been accumulated by their followers over centuries and millennia.
Judaism has survived Pharaonic Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, the empire of Alexander the Great, and the Roman Empire, complete with Titus's punitive expedition and Hadrian's destruction of Jerusalem. This in turn led to Jewish Diaspora and many subsequent persecutions. Christianity suffered initial persecution by the Romans, much schism and conflict even after it became an established religion under Constantine; it underwent a Reformation, followed by wars of religion culminating in the terrible Thirty Years' War, and an Enlightenment that challenged its philosophical bases. These experiences have made Judaism and Christianity what they are today.
Islam has never had a Reformation, and it never had to meet the challenges of an Enlightenment. It is still very much as it was in the seventh century, when it first swept out of the Arabian peninsula to conquer the ancient civilizations of Egypt, the Levant, Asia Minor, and Persia. Its reverses have mainly been military defeats, as when its forces were repulsed at Tours, Granada, Lepanto, and Vienna. It has learned nothing by these events, but rather retains its desire for conquest. It's revealing that Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the leadership of ISIS have referred to Spain as "al-Andalus" - they still regret its loss (in 1492!) and dream of recovering it.
I don't know how we "destroy its archaic belief system and bring them into our world." It seems to me that Islam is at a point in its historic development that parallels where Christianity was in the sixteenth century, if that. It took more than a century of warfare after the Reformation to arrive at the agreement ? sealed by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) - providing that the nations of Europe would no longer go to war over religious differences. And that, of course, did not stop European rulers from engaging in internal persecutions. Just as one example, the Spanish Inquisition was not abolished until the early nineteenth century.
Is Mr. Mishanie prepared to accept the centuries of warfare that may be necessary to achieve his goal?
Hilaire Belloc devoted the fourth chapter of his book The Great Heresies (1938) to Islam, which he viewed as an offshoot of the Arian heresy. He predicted that Islam would be an enemy to Western civilization long after Bolshevism had vanished. Considering that he wrote that book when Bolshevism was riding high - just as Stalin was about to conspire with Hitler to carve up Poland - it seems well nigh prophetic.
The Cold War lasted fifty years, occasionally breaking out into hot warfare in places ranging from Korea to Vietnam to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Grenada, before the Soviet Union collapsed. My feeling is that our conflict with Islam will last much longer, even if we do not actively seek a fight, as Mr. Mishanie proposes. This is a situation in which, as Lenin is supposed to have observed, "you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."
My own preference, for whatever it is worth, is for a policy of exclusion and containment. We should not accept any more Muslim immigrants; we should search out and deport all those who entered the country illegally, as well as any obvious troublemakers. We should have as little as possible to do with Muslim countries. The only worthwhile thing they have to offer us is their oil. They have to sell it to someone. Our contact should be limited to this commercial purpose, with only short-term visas issued to their nationals as may be necessary to facilitate trade. These visas should be restricted to certain areas, with most of the country being off-limits to them. We should at the same time strive to reduce our dependence on oil imported from the Islamic world by a vigorous program of domestic energy development.
Perhaps we can protect ourselves by such steps without inviting the terrible loss of American blood and treasure that now seems to have been wasted to no lasting effect.
- Micheal S. Swisher *
The following is a summary of the October/November 2015 issue of The St. Croix Review:
In a "Letter to the Editor," Captain Robert A. Moss informs the editor about an important development.
Barry MacDonald, in "In Defense of the American Family," presents the thrust of this issue of the St. Croix Review.
Timothy Goeglein, in "Whither the American Family?" expresses how the family is the foundation of civilization.
Paul Kengor, in "Wolfboy and Princess Cupcake: The Complementarity of the Sexes," reaffirms the ideal form of a family headed by a father and mother; in "Takedown of Family and Marriage - Vision and Values' Questions and Answers with Paul Kengor," he discusses how the long-time goal of the far left, the undermining of traditional, Christian marriage, is coming within reach through the vehicle of gay marriage; in "Black Pastors Protest Margaret Sanger at the Smithsonian," he shows why Sanger, who was a racial eugenicist and the founder of Planned Parenthood, should not have a place of honor in America.
Allan C. Brownfeld, in "Every Tragic Incident - Such as That in Missouri - Produces Cries That America Is a 'Racist' Society, but Overlooks a More Complex Reality," points out that the breakdown of the black family has much to do with violence plaguing black males; in "Family Breakdown: One Important Cause of Many of Society's Ills," he recalls Daniel Patrick Moynihan's warnings about the "tangle of pathologies" that would flow from single-parent families; in "There Is a Growing Danger That Police Are Being Made Scapegoats for Larger Racial Problems That Society Ignores," he cites, as a problem, the destructive character of black inner-city culture.
Mark Hendrickson, in "Sex, Life, and Death," considers the influence abortion has had on our culture; in "Welcome to the Brave New World Devised by SCOTUS," he examines the Supreme Court decisions in King, Texas Department of Housing, and Obergefell and believes it has been a "tough season" for long-venerated American principles.
Herbert London, in "Obama's Julia," cites the Obama's campaign creation of "Julia," a made-up person who represents President Obama's view - an ordinary woman who can't succeed without government's helping hand; in "The Gulf States Accept the Iran Deal - or Do They?" he shows how reality is quite different from surface appearance in diplomacy; in "It's Only a Paper Moon," he quotes the belligerent declarations of Iranian military officers and offers an explanation as to why the Obama administration refuses to listen.
Michael D. Dean, in "How the Supreme Court Has Deconstructed Marriage and Culture," shows how the Court, as a reflection of our changing culture, has gone from believing that marriage is an institution of nature or of God's design to an institution falling entirely within the scope of law which can therefore be redefined according to the whims of fashion.
Avner Zarmi, in "Want to Avoid Raising a Brat? Here's What You Need to Know," applies biblical instruction to the raising of children.
In "Things You Can Do to Raise Sane Kids in an Insane World," Arlene Becker Zarmi shares twenty-eight tips.
Jigs Gardner, in "Letters from a Conservative Farmer: Memorabilia," is faced with sorting though family heirlooms and memories of what has vanished and of what remains.
Jigs Gardner, in "Reveille in Washington, D.C." reviews a history of the Civil War by Margaret Leech, who captures the contemporaneous events from the view of the Capital.
Things You Can Do to Raise Sane Kids in an Insane World
Arlene Becker Zarmi is a writer and artist who has been published in over 40 national and regional publications and web sites. This essay first appeared at PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/.
"I'm the new normal," cooed Caitlyn, with a serious, authoritative look. The long-haired, attractive celebrity model said this while being interviewed on CNN. This celebrity has been the topic of many articles and has graced the cover of many magazines - including the most recent edition of Vanity Fair, where the curvy Caitlyn posed in a swimsuit. The statement doesn't seem too outr, except for the fact that Caitlyn Jenner was at one point in the not too distant past, the ex-Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner.
While it's true that Jenner has not been the first transgender person we've known about, apparently Jenner may have been right. Transgender is no longer the shocking revelation it once was.
Of course, homosexuals and bisexual people have been out of their closets for years, but now states are adopting same-sex marriage laws. Many television sitcoms even offer characters that are sympathetic homosexuals. Movie mags show pictures of famous homosexuals in their couples' modes. Even some mainline papers have run announcements of same-sex engagements and marriages. Then, of course, there is now the ability of homosexuals to not only adopt children, but to have them with surrogates. Quite a change from the days when the majority of TV shows were predominantly safe for children to watch and the producers of "I Love Lucy" debated whether to even show Lucy pregnant.
Many of the other values of the religious and moral tenets that the Founders of this country based our republic upon have also been under fire. With divorce increasing, as well as living together without the benefit of marriage, and same-sex marriages, are the traditional Judeo-Christian family values of marriage and having children and raising them within the traditional male/female marriage in danger of becoming the minority way of living in the U.S.? One thing is sure: Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
So, now that we're living in this insane world, what about your children? Can you raise them to have the values of a bygone era, when morals and marriage mattered? It can be done!
Here are 28 Things You Can Do to Raise Sane Kids in an Insane World:
1. Since our basic moral system in the Western world is based on the Judeo-Christian teachings, then the best way to raise children is to be as much within this framework as possible.
2. You must start with yourself - you have to live these values. Children cannot be taught to do something that you yourself don't do. Even little babies can pick up vibes early on.
3. Try to control your anger.
4. Don't use profanity around children.
5. Keep your sex life with your partner a private one. However, exhibiting mutual love is a good thing, and always let your children know that they are loved by you and your spouse.
6. Let each child know that you appreciate the individuality of the child. Compliment him or her when the child does something good.
7. Give your children chores to do that they can handle and that are age-appropriate. Reward them with your positive comments.
8. Choose your friends and those whom you invite to your home carefully. They need not be the same religion as you, but should have the same moral values. As your children get older, it's even more important to choose these friends for good values.
9. Always know who your children's friends are and what kind of homes they come from. You may be raising them the right way, but they can be wrongly influenced by friends and friends' families.
10. Know where your children are at all times.
11. When it comes time to choose any level of schooling for them, if you can, try to choose a parochial school, even if you are not formally religious yourself. There are many good Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish schools that your children can attend. If they do go to a public school, visit the school and check out the principal and teachers, as children are like sponges and will absorb values from those who teach them.
12. Always be involved in your children's schooling. Be part of a parent-teacher association, if there is one. It's important to be involved and know what is going on at their school. Let each of your children's teachers know that you do care about your children and their education.
13. Sit with your children while they are doing their homework when they are younger. Make sure that you see that it is done in a timely fashion.
14. Even if you are not religious, try to enroll your children in a church, synagogue, or Sunday school if they are not studying in a parochial school. Most religious people - those who are involved with their churches or synagogues - seem to produce moral and stable children. For example, the crime rate and divorce rate is extremely low among Orthodox Jews. Because of their commitment to the laws of the Old Testament, they mainly police themselves.
15. Don't do anything that you don't want your children to do. Do not smoke or drink excessively, and of course, never try drugs, or they could pick up these habits. Keep yourself on the straight and narrow and your children should do so as well.
16. Try to imbue the value of good deeds and charity, even when children are very young. Try to help neighbors who may need help and involve your children in this. If there are worthwhile volunteer efforts, join them, and you will be setting a good example for your children. Judeo-Christian beliefs also involve giving monetary charity. You can have a special container where your children chip in as well. It's the tradition in Orthodox Jewish homes to have charity boxes in their homes.
17. Raise your children with pride in their country and respect for its laws.
18. Try to curtail your evening and nighttime social life when raising your children, especially when they are very young.
19. Make sure you have quality time at dinner when children are able to tell you about their day, what they did, and what they learned at school.
20. Read to them when they go to bed. This will be a great bonding time, and also provide them early with the skill of reading.
21. If you can, don't have a television at home, or if you do, monitor what they watch very carefully.
22. Monitor their online computer surfing as well. There are computer programs which allow you to block what you don't want them to see. Limit their time on any computer. Monitoring and limiting are both difficult to do, especially monitoring. If you want them to have their own cell phones, you can get ones without internet access.
23. Do fun family activities together, like camping and taking the kids on tours of the U.S. to see the beauty of our country and its historic sites.
24. Get the kids involved in healthy activities like family skiing, tennis, playing ball, swimming, and biking. All of these can bond a family and help keep kids out of trouble, and away from the TV and the computer.
25. Never, ever shout or lose your temper with your children or you may be in danger of losing them as well.
26. The teen years are the hardest, for both the children and their parents. However, this is the time when you have to be the most vigilant about where they are, and who their friends are.
27. Give them curfews, but reasonable ones, appropriate to their ages.
28. Let them know that you trust them as well. Give them a sense of responsibility so that they don't feel the need to sneak around.
It's not a matter of being strict. In order to bring up children who will have values and become assets to any society they will be in, it's a matter of you leading a moral life, caring - letting them know you care - and being vigilant.
Being a good parent is the hardest and most important job you can ever do. However, if you lay the groundwork when they are first born, work hard at your own moral behavior, and guide your children diligently, you will produced moral, productive, and well-adjusted children, and adults who are happy in their lives, and assets to our country. *
Want to Avoid Raising a Brat? Here's What You Need to Know
Rabbi Avner Zarmi is the Midwest regional vice president of Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox Jewish advocacy organization founded in 1912, and is also active in the Republican Party. He is now semi-retired and writes regularly on various issues for PJ Media, specializing in social issues/Biblical morality from an Orthodox Jewish perspective. His essays first appear at PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/.
Picture the scenario: Your little boy comes home from kindergarten and you tell him to do something he doesn't want to do. He responds with the ethos of the playground: "Mommy, you're stupid!"
There are typically five kinds of maternal reactions (all of which I've actually seen, at one time or another), depending on what kind of day you've had and your own personality. But before I get to the typical responses - and the proper responses - I want to explain to you the concept of chutzpah.
In many ways, our present society can be characterized as a time of chutzpah. This handy Hebrew word is almost untranslatable into English; the dictionary offers such terms as impudence, arrogance, presumptuousness, rebelliousness, and so on, but none of these seems adequate. Perhaps the best way to understand it is in terms of an old joke: Chutzpah is the quality exhibited by someone who kills his parents and then demands mercy from the court on the grounds that he's an orphan.
The Talmud tells us Be-'iqvoth Meshicha chutzpa yisge ("In the steps of the Messiah, chutzpah will increase"), and then goes on to describe this generation characterized by chutzpah:
The young will put elders to shame, and elders will rise against little ones, "son shames father, daughter rises against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the members of his household" [Micah VII, 6]. The face of the generation is that of a dog, and a son is not shamed before his father. . . .
It sounds like a description of daily life around us.
So, getting back to the kindergarten boy who is mouthing off to Mommy, here are some of the typical responses:
1. You're so hurt by the outburst that you simply say nothing; the tears begin to well up.
2. You philosophize: "What can I do? That's how kids are these days."
In both of the above two examples, you've already surrendered and chutzpah has won the day.
3. You respond, "I ask you to speak nicely." You ask? This offers the chutpadik kid the choice of not "granting" your request.
4. You yell back, "Well, you're really stupid!" You've just reverted to your own childhood. Al ta 'an kesil ke-ivvalto ("Don't answer a fool according to his folly"; Proverbs XXVI, 4). You're the one who is supposed to know better.
5. You slap the kid. This last is especially dangerous. A slap in the face is never appropriate and is not a punishment; it's a degradation. The child doesn't learn from it that he's done wrong; he learns that Mommy hates him.
Do you see yourself here? You're not alone. But it doesn't have to be this way, at least, not in your family.
Like every other character trait, chutzpah grows in the young, and like any other weed, it can be uprooted and eradicated. With a few simple steps, you can prevent it from taking root in your children, and thereby give yourself a serene home life and raise them to be well-adjusted adults. So what is the appropriate response?
Our example, as with so many other things, is biblical. Not for nothing did all the early leaders of Israel, the Patriarchs, Jacob's twelve sons, Moses, and even King David manage flocks before managing people. Indeed, in the Song of Songs (in which Israel is metaphorically termed G-d's bride), King Solomon advises us what to do: "If you do not know, most beautiful of women, go out in the steps of the flock, and herd your kids by the shepherds' tents" (I, 8). The shepherd who provides us insight in this instance is Moses.
The Book of Numbers (beginning with chapter XVI) tells the story of the revolt of Korah. At the beginning of his challenge, Korah tells Moses and Aaron:
Rav lachem, You make much of yourselves: For the entire community are all of them holy and Ha-Shem [the name of G-d] is amongst them, and why do you raise yourselves up over Ha-Shem's congregation? (XVI, 3).
You hear? Chutzpah. As though Moses and Aaron had appointed themselves leaders, rather than having been rather reluctantly dragooned into service by G-d. The Talmud tells us, Kol ha-posel pesul be-mumo posel ("Anyone who finds fault with another, does so with his own flaw"; Qiddushin 70a). Korah was hungry for honor and status, so he accused Moses and Aaron of the same thing.
And what was Moses' response? First, Va-yishma' Moshe va-yippol 'al panav ("And Moses heard and he fell upon his face"; ibid., 4). The most humble of men (ibid., XII,3) didn't hide his head in the sand, but he did allow the words to sink in and calmed himself before responding with a counter-challenge: "Tomorrow, Ha-Shem will make known what is His, and what is holy. . . ."
How do we translate this into practical advice?
First, compose yourself; don't answer in anger. Also, don't think that this is a moment when you can educate the child concerning proper behavior; education comes later, when he's being a good boy and things are calm. What you want to do now is stop the bad behavior in its tracks. So:
1. Look him straight in the eyes. Bend down, if necessary, and speak to him in simple words appropriate to his age. Rather than descending to his emotional level, bring him to yours; simply tell him he's done wrong: "You only speak nicely to Mommy, not the way you just spoke." The speech should be direct and the tone should be clear and commanding, accepting no nonsense. In this way, you not only preserve your own dignity ("I'm Mommy; you're my child"), but you also protect his.
2. Do not issue threats and do not offer choices; you don't want to give him the option of not obeying. Children are looking for direction. They need you to set limits for them and show them the right way to behave.
Speaking in a clear and commanding tone does not mean shouting at him; still less does he need, at this point, a detailed explanation of why it's wrong to talk back to you. It's enough that he knows that he's done wrong and what he's done wrong. Almost always, the behavior will stop.
I've used the example of Mommy and her son, but the advice applies equally to both parents, children of both sexes, and of all ages. Apply these simple tools, and you'll do yourself, your child - and the society at large - a huge favor. *
Michael Dean is an attorney who litigates in defense of Christian liberties.
The Supreme Court has come to behave more like autonomous philosopher kings than judges. On June 26, 2015, the Court completed its abandonment of the intellectual foundations of Western civilization, deciding in Obergefell v. Hodges that marriage is not a pre-political human institution that, as Chief Justice Roberts dissented, "arose in the nature of things," but is rather an instrumental creation of positive law that those in power may define however they see fit.
Obergefell makes clear that the Court has lost all self-restraint. Nothing in society or culture any longer escapes its ubiquitous deployment of equal protection and due process. There is nothing off limits it is unwilling to deconstruct and refashion in the image of its own predilections.
The Court's jurisprudence did not spring full-blown from the head of William Brennan or Anthony Kennedy. It was birthed and nurtured in the halls and salons of 18th and 19th century academics and intellectuals who, weary of the sober constraints of their Aristotelian and Thomistic heritage that man flourishes by understanding the nature of things and conforming his conduct accordingly, seized control of their own evolution to remake man, not as he is, but as they dreamed he might be.
Whether from Aristotle's empiric conclusion that man, like all substances, has an inherent nature and develops accordingly, or from Judeo-Christian tradition that man is created in and subject to the image and law of God, it has been understood throughout Western history that marriage between man and woman is inherent in human nature and exists for two complementary and inseparable purposes - the happiness and flourishing (eudaimonia) of the man and woman who comprise it, and the creation and education of children as the natural consequence and responsibility of its most intimate expression. In other words, marriage is not created by the state. It is only recognized and regulated by the state, if at all, in a manner consistent with its nature.
In sociological terms, this is the "conjugal" view of marriage. In most cases actually, and in all cases symbolically, marriage is not only about gratification of the partners and fulfillment of their psychological and physical needs. It is, inherently, also about the perpetuation and flourishing of the human race and community itself - the production and education of children - the achievement of their happiness, and fulfillment of their needs.
That understanding of marriage existed in early American law as part of a worldview grounded in historic Judeo-Christian and natural law traditions. Typical of scores of early state court decisions, the court observed in Overseers of Poor of Town of Newbury v. Overseers of Poor of Town of Brunswick (Vt. 1829) that marriage is "one of the natural rights of human nature, . . . ordained by the great Lawgiver of the universe . . . ." In Gentry v. Fry (Mo. 1835), the court stated:
Bacon defines [marriage] to be: "a compact between a man and a woman for the procreation and education of children." . . . . Rutherford declares it: "a contract between a man and a woman . . . for the purposes of their mutual happiness and of the production and education of children." . . .
It requires . . . masculine and feminine . . . a man and a woman. Two men cannot make it. Two women cannot - only one man and one woman . . . [for] their mutual happiness, and the production of children . . . the propagation of the human species, and the happiness of man.
In Baker v. Baker (Cal. 1859), the court noted the same two purposes:
Again, the first purpose of matrimony, by the laws of nature and society, is procreation. . . . The second purpose of matrimony is the promotion of the happiness of the parties by the society of each other[.]
In Stevenson v. Gray (Ky. 1856), the court explained that marriage is founded in nature, is ordained to perpetuate the human race, and is "the foundation not only of all social order and refinement, but of the continued existence of society and of nations."
In the late 19th century, still within historic Western traditions, the Supreme Court rejected the Mormons' argument that the Free Exercise Clause entitled them to practice polygamy. In Reynolds v. United States (1878), the Court explained that monogamous marriage - one man and one woman for life - is vital in maintaining a free society, and that polygamy leads to despotism in societies that tolerate it. In Davis v. Beason (1890), the Court declared that polygamy was not protected under the Free Exercise Clause because "the general consent of the Christian world in modern times" recognized it as a crime.
Societies change over time, more or less in concert with changes in the fundamental cultural conceptions that cohere and guide them. Competing perspectives emerge to challenge dominant worldviews and, because law is a function of culture, as worldviews change, legal perspectives change with them, sometimes as effect, sometimes as cause.
The intellectual ferment of the 18th and 19th centuries bore legal fruit in the 20th with the rejection of historic Judeo-Christian and Western traditions. In Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), the Supreme Court's reasoning reflected the official disestablishment of Judeo-Christian intellectual and cultural heritage, concluding that the Establishment Clause permitted government display of a crche among a wide assortment of holiday claptrap, but prohibited its display alone because that would appear to express preference for or "endorse" religion. Even that was too much for Justice Brennan, who complained in dissent:
By insisting that such a distinctively sectarian message is merely an unobjectionable part of our "religious heritage," . . . the Court takes a long step backwards to the days when Justice Brewer could arrogantly declare . . . that "this is a Christian nation."
Concomitant with the rejection of Christianity was rejection of its view of man. In place of the conception of man as a divine creation or natural "substance" subject to the characteristics and constraints of his inherent nature, the courts adopted the 18th- and 19th-century conception of man as an ever-evolving accident bent on his own survival and gratification on his own terms.
In law as in culture, it is always the foundations, the presuppositions, which erode first. Traditions like marriage stagger on for a time out of inertia, but once the rationale is gone, traditions and habits eventually collapse because, in the end, mere tradition is never a sufficient justification for anything. Thus, the new conception of man logically yielded a new conception of marriage. Marriage is no longer a pre-political institution created by God or inherent in the nature of things, essential for development and flourishing of individuals and culture in conformance with the inherent characteristics and constraints of human nature. It is a political institution created by man for his own ends, as he sees fit.
In sociological terms, this is the "relationship" view, in which marriage is an instrumental construct of positive law, created to meet the needs of the partners, in which production and education of children for perpetuation of the race is an incidental, not essential, purpose.
Again, the Supreme Court's jurisprudence is as much consequence as cause of larger cultural change. Nevertheless, beginning in the 1960s and culminating with Obergefell, Court decisions provide excellent markers of the progressive replacement of Western intellectual tradition and its conception of marriage.
In Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Court declared unconstitutional a state statute prohibiting the sale of contraceptives. It speaks volumes that only half a century ago such laws were still common, reflecting the historic understanding that children are inseparable from the very idea of love and marriage. At one point in our history, the American people and their governments understood that the connection between gratification and children was so essential to marriage and culture that they made it illegal to sell the means to intentionally break that connection. But the Court, concluding itself wiser than the people, discovered in the Bill of Rights an unwritten right of "privacy," which included the right to separate gratification from procreation. Besides the actual legal effect, the Court's holding had a powerfully symbolic effect, communicating to the nation that gratification alone was a sufficient justification for breaking the intergenerational covenant of procreation on which culture is based - that the Court would no longer allow government to prohibit the intentional severance of the natural connection between act and consequence, gratification and responsibility, comfort and commitment, present and future, love and children.
In Eisenstadt v. Baird (U.S. 1972), the Court affirmed its Griswold holding. But this time the plaintiffs were not even married, so far beyond Griswold, the Court sent the message that marriage itself was not essential because the right of individual gratification superseded any social purpose that requiring the commitment of marriage as a precondition of sexual gratification or having children might serve.
In Roe v. Wade (U.S. 1973), the Court held that "privacy" includes the right to abortion. Beyond Griswold and Eisenstadt, "privacy" now included not only the right to sever the natural connection between gratification and responsibility and act and consequence, but also the right to destroy consequences and avoid responsibility for them when they do occur.
In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (U.S. 1992), the Court openly announced the substitution of worldviews. In declaring that the right of "privacy" trumped all but the most limited regulation of abortion, Justice Kennedy wrote that "liberty" protected by the 14th Amendment includes:
. . . the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
Essentially, the Court said that because every mother has the right to define and decide existence, the universe, life, and meaning for herself, that right necessarily includes the right to define and decide whether an unborn child is a legal person and whether it should live or die. An unborn child is no longer understood to be a created or natural human substance with inherent characteristics and rights, so there is no fixed truth or legal principle governing whether it is a person or deserves legal protection simply because of its nature as a human being. The child is whatever the mother decides, and it will live or die depending upon that decision.
In Romer v. Evans (U.S. 1996) and Lawrence v. Texas (U.S. 2003), the Supreme Court treated homosexual acts, by which children are impossible, as having equal legal status with heterosexual acts, by which children are, actually or symbolically, inseparably connected.
In United States v. Windsor (2013), a deceased partner in a same-sex marriage recognized by the State of New York left her estate to her partner, who challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act, under which she was denied the surviving spouse exemption from federal estate taxes. Substituting its judgment for that of Congress and virtually all cultures throughout human history, the majority held that the Act violated due process because Congress could have "no legitimate purpose" for defining marriage as between man and woman, and that the "purpose and effect" of such a definition was to "disparage and injure" same-sex couples whom New York "sought to protect in personhood and dignity."
In a companion case, Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), the people of California approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between man and woman. When the state attorney general refused to defend his own constitution against a federal challenge, the Supreme Court refused to allow the citizens who passed the amendment to intervene to defend it. In contrast to Windsor, where the Court simply ignored the "legitimate purpose[s]" argued by Congress for the federal definition of marriage, the Hollingsworth Court refused even to allow such purposes to be heard.
Finally, in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the Court took not merely a road less traveled, it took one never before traveled at all. As explained above, Obergefell crosses a profound divide in the intellectual foundations and jurisprudence of Western civilization. It has no limiting principle grounded in reality. The majority no longer bothers to ask whether marriage (or anything else) is beyond the reach of positive law simply because it exists "in the nature of things." Rather, speaking for a one-vote majority, Anthony Kennedy discovers that due process entitles every individual to "define" his own "identity." And not only does due process protect the right to create one's own reality, it requires government to "dignify" and "support" the creation.
Among the malignant consequences of such arrogance is the death of law itself. Rule of law's essence is prescription in language. What is written by the legislature today is to be understood and followed by the judiciary tomorrow. But the majority derive their holding, not from constitutional text, but from their powers of invention. They admit their constructions of "liberty" and "equality" have no basis in history, but impose new meanings anyway. The arrogance is breathtaking. Justice Scalia calls it "hubris" and "astounding." Chief Justice Roberts asks, "Just who do we think we are?"
Obergefell also sanctifies two pernicious fallacies as constitutional writ. Rejecting the judgment of virtually all cultures of all times that marriage serves the two essential purposes of fulfilling the man and woman who comprise it and rearing the children they produce, Kennedy declares children nonessential because some heterosexuals "do not or cannot have children." But if that is correct, then fulfillment is not essential either - divorce being proof enough that many individuals "do not or cannot find fulfillment." Worse, citing Loving v. Virginia as authority, Kennedy equates race and gender despite the numbingly obvious distinction that in bearing and raising children, difference in race is irrelevant, difference in gender is essential.
Further, the Court substitutes its own "reasoned judgment" for that of the people whose representatives have acknowledged, time out of mind, that marriage is between man and woman. Because children are ends in themselves, not means to adult fulfillment, marriage laws have always institutionalized the norm of children being raised by their own parents. But equating same-sex unions and marriage, Obergefell confirms a mother's power to subordinate her son's need for his father to her own need for a same-sex partner. It lays the groundwork for denying a child's right to be reared by her own parents, and for diluting or ending official preference for the natural biological unit on which civilizations have rested time out of mind. Its inexorable illogic requires that - as the Department of Justice argued in Hollingsworth - parents' gender is irrelevant to a child's development. So while same-sex couples have the "right" to raise children who are not their own, those same children have no right to be raised by parents who are their own. We will soon be told that nature itself is artificial, and therefore meaningless as a basis for any kind of legal analysis.
Obergefell's road not traveled has finally taken us completely through the constitutional looking glass. The Court has discovered that having sex with whomever, however, whenever you want is vital to human "dignity," and woe to anyone who even questions such a right, much less condemns it as immoral or sinful. Rights of speech, free exercise, and association - which obviously are in the text - are rapidly disappearing before the new right of sexual autonomy - which is obviously not in the text.
And so we have passed from a world of law grounded in text to a world of law created by utter invention. The Court has not merely deconstructed marriage and culture, it has deconstructed reason and law itself. I pray that rule of law may yet be recovered. *