Tuesday, April 2, 2013

David Brooks gets it right: the loss of personal freedom.

The LGBT community has changed a lot, from cultural radicals focused on sexuality, to what I frankly consider to be a mature and mainstream group.  Perhaps the AIDS crisis focused the community's attention on the meaning of our relationships and family.  As Barney Frank noted a while ago, you can hardly call us revolutionaries any more;  I mean, how radical can it be when your goals are equal protections at work, equal opportunities to serve in the military, and equal rights to marry?

Columnist David Brooks comments on this today in the NY Times in the context of personal freedom.
Recently, the balance between freedom and restraint has been thrown out of whack. People no longer even have a language to explain why freedom should sometimes be limited. The results are as predicted. A decaying social fabric, especially among the less fortunate. Decline in marriage. More children raised in unsteady homes. Higher debt levels as people spend to satisfy their cravings. 
But last week saw a setback for the forces of maximum freedom. A representative of millions of gays and lesbians went to the Supreme Court and asked the court to help put limits on their own freedom of choice. They asked for marriage. 
Marriage is one of those institutions — along with religion and military service — that restricts freedom. Marriage is about making a commitment that binds you for decades to come. It narrows your options on how you will spend your time, money and attention. 
...Americans may no longer have a vocabulary to explain why freedom should sometimes be constricted, but they like it when they see people trying to do it. Once Americans acknowledged gay people exist, then, of course, they wanted them enmeshed in webs of obligation. 
...The proponents of same-sex marriage used the language of equality and rights in promoting their cause, because that is the language we have floating around. But, if it wins, same-sex marriage will be a victory for the good life, which is about living in a society that induces you to narrow your choices and embrace your obligations.

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