Culture Wars

Culture War

People justly tire of the term “culture war” and find themselves asking, like the philosopher Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

And yet watching the disparate reactions to yesterday’s Federal Court ruling overturning California’s Proposition 8 (for now) it struck me that the culture war terminology is quite apt. What is termed the culture was is essentially a zero sum game over which of two roughly equally numerous groups will be allowed to define the dominant understandings of culture and society in our country. by taking this to the federal level, same sex marriage advocates have made it clear that no degree of regional acceptance is satisfactory — their understanding of the nature of marriage must be the single dominant understanding enforced throughout the country, and those with a traditional understanding of marriage must be the ones who find themselves aliens within their country. And, presumably, is same sex marriage advocates lose, they will in turn consider themselves aliens within the country. Given that it is the most basic units and purposes of society which are in dispute, it seems hard to see how it can be any other way. And while the dispute is to an extent regional, it is much more so philosophical and ideological, making the culture war more resemble the Spanish Civil War than the American. Every city and region has representatives of both sides.

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Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

The New York Times runs an article about how the national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are seeking to address concerns about shrinking membership as they celebrate 100 years of boy scouting in the US. The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978, with 2.8 million boys currently in the Scouts.

To judge from the commentariat at the Times, you would think this is entirely the result of the BSA remaining firm in their ban of gay scout leaders and statement that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with obligations in the Scout Oath.” Not to mention saying that boys who refuse to recite the Scout Oath because of its references to God and reverence may simply not have a place in the program. Commenters claiming to be Eagle Scouts line up one after another in the comments to announce that no son of theirs will ever be a member of the Scouts while it remains homophobic and theocratic.

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Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

Back in 1979 I was one of the founding members of the Christian Legal Society at the University of Illinois.  Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Hastings College of Law at the University of California was within its rights to deny recognition to the Christian Legal Society because the group requires that members agree, among other principles, that sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful, and that members must be Christians.  Hastings contended that these principles violated the open membership policy of the university, in that it would discriminate against prospective members on the grounds of religion and sexual orientation.  Go here to read the decision.

Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia and Thomas, wrote a thought provoking dissent.

The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 654–655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Today’s decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.

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Family Guy Actor Sides With Palinth

Patrick Warburton, who the true geeks among us will remember as The Tick, sides with Palin over the FamilyGuy attack onTrig episode:

Cast member Patrick Warburton told TV critics Wednesday he objected to the joke.

“I know it’s satire but, personally, that [joke] bothered me too,” Warburton said on a conference call to promote his other primetime show, CBS’s sitcom “Rules of Engagement,” which returns for a fourth season on March 1. (On “Family Guy” Warburton does the voice of the wheelchair-bound police officer, Joe.)

“I know that you have to be an equal-opportunity offender, but there are some things that I just don’t think are funny.”

Shhh. Wait. It gets better:

“Look, I have fun. I like Seth [MacFarlane, the show’s creator]. He’s got a great comic mind and I think that the show can be fantastically funny. But I do believe that it can be hurtful at times,” Warburton said in response to a question about the episode posed by WaPo Team TV’s “Family Guy” bureau chief Emily Yahr. […]

“A show like that … is going to offend everybody at one point or another,” the actor said.
“My mother actually believes my soul’s in peril for being on the show,” he added.

Hold up, for the Post felt it needed to make sure readers knew Warburton was being sarcastic with that last line:

Note to Ms. Palin — he was making a joke.

Phew. And I thought he was being serious.

Warburton is a Catholic, and he and his wife have four kids.

Res et Explicatio for AD 2-4-2010

[Update at the bottom of this post]

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:

1. The USCCB scandal continues as the U.S. bishops continue to issue denials of wrongdoings.

Mary Ann of Les Femmes blog asks why does the USCCB continue to cooperate with evil.

An interesting twist to this story is how the Boston Globe and New York Times covered the homosexual pedophile abuse scandal in the Church quite vigorously yet not one peep when the USCCB is caught red-handed with direct links to anti-Catholic organizations.

2. A great discussion about the origins of the phrase, “The Dunce Cap“, provided for a clarification by Friar Roderic.  He provided a video that explains the steady progression as a Protestant insult, ie, to call Catholic dunces for being aggressive in their Catholic beliefs, to the more secularized version which has turned it into a catch phrase for idiocy.

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Luke, Linus and the Nativity

As a service to our readers who missed the Charlie Brown Christmas Special due to its pre-emption by Obama’s speech on Afghanistan.  ABC will show the Christmas Special on December 8th at 8:00 PM, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The words of Linus are of course taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

When I was a boy the Charlie Brown Christmas Special was my favorite TV Christmas Special.  As a man, I agree.

Culture Crash

That mainstream American culture is something of a train wreck is hardly news at this point, and that regard there’s a certain wisdom to the approach, “Let the dead bury their dead,” rather than having the brashness to be the one shouting, “Oh, hey, look! A body!” Still, occasionally one runs across things which are at the same time so sad and so indicative of our cultural ills one feels the need to comment. Such a case, to my mind at least, was this article from the most recent Atlantic Monthly suggesting that for the modern Homo suburbanicus middleclassus marriage is a failed idea which should be pretty much abandoned. Or as the cheery sub-headline succinctly put it: “The author is ending her marriage. Isn’t it time you did the same?”

The author is a 47 year old woman, a successful performance artist married to a musician, who after twenty years of marriage and two children find herself in the aftermath of an extramarital affair deciding that she really doesn’t feel like doing the work to rebuilt a relationship with her husband.

Which is not to say I’m against work. Indeed, what also came out that afternoon were the many tasks I—like so many other working/co-parenting/married mothers—have been doing for so many years and tearfully declared I would continue doing. I can pick up our girls from school every day; I can feed them dinner and kiss their noses and tell them stories; I can take them to their doctor and dentist appointments; I can earn my half—sometimes more—of the money; I can pay the bills; I can refinance the house at the best possible interest rate; I can drive my husband to the airport; in his absence, I can sort his mail; I can be home to let the plumber in on Thursday between nine and three, and I can wait for the cable guy; I can make dinner conversation with any family member; I can ask friendly questions about anybody’s day; I can administer hugs as needed to children, adults, dogs, cats; I can empty the litter box; I can stir wet food into dry.

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Cultural or Political Axis?

Donald linked below to a discussion of the death of “liberaltarianism”, which led many to ask what exactly that is.  As it so happens, I’d been reading about this seemingly contradictory phenomenon on Ross Douthat’s blog the other day.  It seems all this goes back to a piece Brink Lindsey originally wrote for The New Republic a couple years ago in which he complains:

Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions.

Though he admits there’s not been much real movement on the part of Democrats to please libertarians, he cites a few things: Continue reading

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