The anti-PC case for same-sex marriage

The phenomenon of Political Correctness (these days branded as “Intersectional Social Justice”), once thought to have been vanquished back during the early 90’s, has undergone a resurgence in recent years; many commentators place the blame on social media, stronger leftist dominance of education and the academy and mainstream press, and pedagogical practices which encourage children to treat hurtful words as equivalent to physical violence. Political Correctness represents an imminent threat to freedom of speech, not merely in its legal form (where such protections exist) but in its civil manifestation as a culture of open discussion and debate where orthodoxies are questioned. A free marketplace of ideas does not operate efficiently when monopolized, after all.

But critics of Political Correctness need to keep in mind a simple truth; the broken clock is right twice a day. Sometimes, acolytes of PC (often called Social Justice Warriors or “SJWs”) support things which are good (albiet for the wrong reasons). Anti-PC advocates need to keep this in mind; just because SJWs are “anti-racist” does not imply it is good to join a skinhead gang.

By the same token, anti-PC advocates shouldn’t knee-jerk against same sex marriage. Just because support for same sex marriage is considered “politically correct” doesn’t mean it should be opposed. After all, the same policy can be supported for multiple reasons, and there is a perfectly reasonable classical liberal case for same sex marriage.

But I am not going to argue the classical liberal case for same sex marriage (after all, that would be preaching to the choir; almost everyone reading this article is already familiar with the classical liberal argument on this subject). Rather, I am going to argue that there is a specifically anti-PC case in favor of legalizing same sex marriage. Anyone who truly desires to be “deplorable” should want gay marriage legalized in Australia.

First, a little background is necessary; in Australia, marriage law is a federal question and there are no enumerated constitutional guarantees of individual rights (unlike the United States). This means that marriage laws will have to be changed via the democratic process, either through referendum or via our elected representatives (the current postal survey is nonbinding).

A second point which needs to be brought up is that Political Correctness is an elitist ideology (this explains why it fits so well with the American progressive tradition). It is an ideology with some intellectual roots in Frankfurt School Marxism; it sees our society as brainwashed and enthralled by a cultural hegemony (a la Gramsci). It sees the masses as mindless, manipulated and malleable sheep that need to be led into the light by their more “woke” superiors.

A third point is that Political Correctness makes the fundamental claim that due to the aforementioned cultural hegemony, our society is deeply bigoted (the relevant bigotry in this particular case is homophobia). Even our society’s basic habits and routines are coded with, or are at least products of, such bigotry. This inherently taints everything about our society; Australia is (according to Political Correctness) a fundamentally and unavoidably racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, classist, ableist, colonialist, genocidal society, and everyone socialized within this society (except perhaps an indigenous transwoman lesbian Muslim in a wheelchair) bears some degree of original sin/”privilege” as a result.

So what is the “deplorable” case for same sex marriage? Simple; a democratic vindication of civil marriage equality becomes irrefutable evidence that the PC narrative is wrong. It defuses the great power that PC holds over people; it would demolish the power of guilt.

Let us not mince words; guilt is a useful social control mechanism (as the vast wealth and prestige of the Roman Catholic church makes abundantly clear). Controlling people through guilt follows a simple formula; inflict the disease and then sell the guilty person the “cure” (rinse and repeat). As Ayn Rand quite eloquently put it: “for centuries, the mystics of spirit had existed by running a protection racket – by making life on earth unbearable, then charging you for consolation and relief, by forbidding all the virtues that make existence possible, then riding on the shoulders of your guilt, by declaring production and joy to be sins, then collecting blackmail from the sinners.” Rand also brings up the political implications of said guilt; “there’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them.”

Political Correctness makes a criminal out of all of us. It declares everyone within our society guilty of some ill-defined bigotry (often subconscious/implicit/tacit). It claims that attempting to argue against these charges of bigotry constitutes “white fragility”/”fragile male ego” (or, if one is a member of an “oppressed class” one has “internalized bigotry” against oneself) and thus is evidence for the charges (this pattern of reasoning is called the “Kafkatrap” owing to how it resembles Kafka’s The Trial). The objective of laying these charges (always in a public forum) is to induce shame and guilt, to encourage others to join in the shaming, and to force the accused into an act of self-flagellatory public confession for the crime of being born into a society in which they are (allegedly) not discriminated against. The accused is then told to perform penance through becoming an “ally” to the “marginalized.”

And the left have a long history of doing this. The US, due to the atrocity of slavery, still wrestles with the fact of “white guilt,” and no one could deny that the Australian left have attempted to use the Stolen Generation to induce a similar complex in Australians. Not to mention the idea of “Invasion Day” (like anyone alive today had any choice in the matter). Oh, and we’re all guilty of anti-Asian bigotry because Pauline Hanson is a thing. And gay-bashings aren’t an atrocious crime against innocent individuals but proof of a “wide-scale cultural pathology” which we all normalize (and yes, gay men are just as guilty of this too because if you put “masc 4 masc” in your Grindr profile you’re an “internalized homophobe”).

Sure, it can be reasonable to talk about the disparate treatment of various groups within our society, and it is beyond refute that our society’s history contains many atrocities; neither of these phenomena are unique to “our” (i.e. Western) society or history, however. In addition, assigning responsibility for the sins of the past to present-day individuals is irrational and an attack on the very concept of morality.

Now, unfortunately there are still some homophobes in Australian society. But they are the minority, and that is precisely the point. If a democratic majority favors changing the law to accept same sex marriage, this dynamites the PC worldview.

If the masses are sheep with minds that are merely “social constructs” and we live in a society that is homophobic at its very root, there could be no democratic success for same sex marriage. If treating people equally is something which is only believed in by a small elite of university-educated “woke” individuals, then democracy (direct or representative) would never deliver improvements in equal treatment. If our society is filled to the brim with homophobes, the democratic process dooms same sex marriage.

As such, a democratic victory for same sex marriage would validate the tolerance of the average Australian, the openness of Australian civic culture, and make it quite clear that Australians today should not be feeling guilty over the homophobia of the past. It would be something Australians could be proud of. It would promote classically liberal, civic-nationalist sentiment. In the Kafkaesque trial the SJWs put Australia (and the Western world in general) on, a clear “yes” majority would constitute a vindication of our innocence.

Personally I would’ve preferred a vote in Parliament (which too is a democratic institution and thus all my previous points apply to a Parliamentary vote as well). Postal surveys are not inexpensive, after all. But there is substantial cultural-symbolic value in the result. It becomes harder to cast Australia as a society where bigotry is normalized when the majority of people embrace tolerance and equality. Just as it was powerful when Ireland (an historically Catholic and quite socially conservative nation) legalized same sex marriage by popular referendum, Australia’s embrace of same sex marriage through democratic institutions would send a clear message that no longer can the acolytes of PC ‘Still Call Australia Homophobic’ (to borrow a phrase from Tim Minchin), and if they persist in doing so they’ll become self-discrediting jokes.

A clear “yes” majority would strike a blow for populism, democracy, and a national pride rooted in classically liberal values. It would showcase the tolerance of the average Australian and flat-out contradict the elitist narrative that Australian society is a steaming cauldron of hate and homophobia that can only be cured with intense sessions of shaming and “diversity training” run by upper-middle-class Melbournian coffee-shop hipsters with advanced degrees in Oppression Studies. It would prove Political Correctness to be idiotic mental masturbation, and “Diversity Inc.” as nothing more than a make-work program for said mental masturbators. It would show the fundamental injustice of throwing the everyday Australian into the Basket Of Deplorables.

Which is why if you truly want to be “Deplorable,” vote yes.

Andrew Russell

Andrew Russell

Andrew Russell is an Economist, Objectivist and political commentator. His legal interests include travel, electronic-industrial music, casino gambling and recreational alcoholism.
Andrew Russell

Latest posts by Andrew Russell (see all)

15 Comments on "The anti-PC case for same-sex marriage"

  1. That, in my opinion, would have to be the strongest argument for a YES vote I have read so far.

  2. Repeal the Marriage Act. None of the state’s business.

    • The constitution says otherwise. Of course, the constitution can be changed.

    • That would be my ideal solution but unfortunately we’re not in a situation where that is on the cards yet. Not to mention many parts of our law differentiate between those whom are seen as legally in a family and those whom aren’t (and civil marriage is one of the primary ways legally-acknowledged families are formed).

      So for now we are faced with the option of either changing nothing, or expanding the marriage act to allow same-sex couples to wed. I propose the latter would represent (presuming religions were left to define their own religion’s marriages for themselves) an improvement to the current situation.

      And sure, we shouldn’t lose sight of the ultimate goal, but by the same token we shouldn’t neglect chances to make things a little bit better when we can do so.

  3. Libertarians REALLY don’t get it.
    A bedrock social institution is not to be junked on a silly whim.

    • Silly whim?

      We’re having a democratic vote after quite literally more than 10 years of public debate, and we’ve witnessed the debates in different nations too (and seen their experiences with same sex marriage).

      And we’re not “junking” marriage. We’re expanding the criteria for civil marriage in particular. This doesn’t get rid of marriage or mean less marriages will happen (quite the opposite).

      As for “bedrock social institution” the fact is that social institutions change all the time. “The family” used to refer to the extended family (it still does in Mediterranean cultures), not the nuclear family (which is a relatively modern invention mostly made feasible by expanding prosperity and dependable careers for the masses). Our language, religion, culture, political debates and priorities, have all changed over time.

      Since no one is going to be forced into a same-sex marriage, or forced to give their moral approval to such a marriage, I don’t see how one can suggest that same-sex marriage is being “forced” on anyone.

      Oh, and marriage has changed repeatedly over history. Polygamy diminished and was eventually abolished. We began to accept inter-ethnic and inter-religious marriages. And marriages, which used to be something people did out of social obligation and economic prudence, became thought of as romantic. And having children is no longer thought of as mandatory to marriage (or exclusive to it). The institution has already changed substantially over time. How is opening the institution up to same-sex couples any more drastic than the shifts that have already taken place?

  4. It is a recent affectation. 1961.

    • The marriage act itself certainly is. Of course the practice of marriage and weddings goes back before that. But the idea that the government should regulate marriage is novel. Ideally the government should just be a record-keeper and otherwise treat marriage as any other contract.

  5. I wish he had argued the classical liberal case rather than this strawman he creates to resemble political correctness.

  6. Well written Andrew, especially the Ayn Rand paragraphs which reminds me to dig out her books again. I respectfully disagree though with your conclusion as history has shown us that the progressives march towards reshaping our society will not be slowed by acceding to their demands. They are not interested in slowing down the deconstruction of time-proven institutions. I am not a mind reader so I cannot know for sure what each of their motives are but I fathom they are on a crusade to dismantle traditional “stifling” institutions and mindsets. The ’60s and ’70s were about overthrowing the WASPs. No doubt their intellectual leaders want more power and control which can only be bad for a free thinking and tolerant society.

    I once thought like you (2008 I was pro- Ron Paul but was not upset when Obama was elected because I thought naively that it would “heal” USA) but now am absolutely convinced that there is nothing stopping their A-train. A for authoritarian. There is nothing that can be done to appease them. They will juggernaut through to the very end.

    • Gregory,

      Thank you very much for your response.

      Its okay if you disagree but question; how would opening civil marriage up to same-sex couples “deconstruct” the institution of marriage? And how would it in any way advance an authoritarian agenda (presuming that religions were left alone to define their particular religious marriages)?

      I don’t think the 60s and 70s counterculture was as sinister as you think… contemporary PC is much worse than the counterculture.

      I should clarify, I don’t think that voting for gay marriage would APPEASE the advocates of PC. I merely think that a strong democratic majority for same sex marriage would serve as effective evidence against their worldview.

  7. Thanks Andrew. I still have not got round to digging out Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology but I recall Rand (or maybe it was Rothbard) saying that institutions must have some exclusivity to have any meaning. I agree with this and am not persuaded that society would be better off having splintering definitions of long accepted Christian institutions. Indeed, I would wager it would be worse off. Rather than splicing of wat we have always known as marriage, why can’t a new word be created for a new concept. Anything else smacks to me of political correctness.

    Would voting yes really strike a blow against the cultural marxists? Absolutely not. They will view the Yes vote, buoyed by their confirmation bias, as another important victory on their long march.

    • Gregory,

      I agree all concepts (including institutions) must be exclusive by definition (things are what they are, not what they are not). But why does that mean civil marriage in particular must remain exclusively for opposite-sex couples? What’s the rationale for denying identical legal treatment to same-sex couples?

      Is marriage an inherently Christian institution? Marriage exists in every religion and it existed in pre-Christian pagan Europe. But we aren’t talking about Christian marriage or religious marriage in general; this debate is about civil marriage, which can be engaged in by persons of any (or no) religious beliefs. Civil marriage is entirely a creation of the State.

      Why can’t a new word be created for a same sex civil marriage? Perhaps the real question is why SHOULD a new word be created for it? If its legally identical to an opposite sex civil marriage… why not use the same word?

      And yeah, the social justice left will like having same sex marriage. The point isn’t merely to spite them. The point is to show that a fundamental plank of their ideology… the idea that our society is racist/sexist/homophobic at the very root… is demented.

Leave a comment