Via the Free Beacon, I think it was Dan McLaughlin of Red State who tweeted after last week’s SSM decision was released, “Now the contest begins to see who’ll be the angriest winner.” His point was that, for a movement that’s been unstoppable culturally over the past 10 years, there’s a curiously strong impulse towards nastiness in some lefties’ reaction to each new victory. With this remark from George Takei, I think it’s safe to say the contest is now over.
Takei’s overreacting to a point Thomas made in response to Kennedy’s idea that state recognition of gay marriage is at base about recognizing the equal dignity of gay citizens. Your dignity doesn’t depend on what the state thinks of you, countered Thomas. Each life has inherent dignity that the state can’t destroy even with severe depredations. It can tell you that you’re property but God says you’re a human being, and that’s that. His point was a variation on Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous line that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” which is simplistic in an extreme case of oppression like slavery or internment but valuable as a defense of the essential humanity of exploited people. All Thomas was saying was that dignity is a matter of natural rights, not positivism. Gays have dignity whether the state acknowledges their marriages or not. But because he came out the wrong way on gay marriage and because he is, after all, Clarence Thomas, America’s most famous black conservative and therefore the country’s supreme race traitor in the eyes of the left, Takei not only willfully misunderstands his intentions but slides easily into a nasty racial crack about Thomas’s black authenticity. He’ll pay no price for it, needless to say. If anything, this is high-five material for jerkoffs who’ve already moved past last week’s landmark ruling and are busily gaming out how to bust tax exemptions for Catholic soup kitchens or whatever.
That makes much more sense.
I think that we differ in our perspective regarding the term “dignity.”
“Worthy of honor and esteem” might be something durable in God’s eye, but we mortals all too often look to “authority” to TELL us who to honor. If the government puts out a list of sex-offenders, we don’t bother to question named individual’s guilt, we shun them. We deem them unworthy and dishonorable, having taken said unworthiness at the government’s word. Our service members are given an “honorable” discharge (or not) at the end of their service, and prospective employers look at that as a trusted measure of an applicant’s personal integrity. Both servicemen and civilians are given medals – symbols commanding honor and respect – by the government.
Our government (and everyone else’s, for that matter) –plays fast and loose with our honor and esteem, and we are conditioned to accept it. Maybe YOU don’t, but most do.
In fact, our entire social structure is based upon our mutual acceptance of collective opinion, whether it be as expressed by government elected by democratic processes, or through one or another version of peer review. We simply cannot be burdened with individually assessing every person we come in contact with.
And so I would suggest to you that, while some small portion of your and my dignity is manifested in our more or less intimate relationships among family and friends, the lion’s share of what I am considering our dignity comes from elsewhere. Perhaps for you it comes from God, and maybe it is conveyed from him through both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution. But I see it differently.
Notice that I’m not saying that you are wrong… for you. But the term means something different for me.
I don’t see much dignity in having your life reduced to that of a caged animal. The implication of that cage is that you are unworthy of freedom. If there was so much “dignity” in being caged, why on Earth are so many caged people trying to get out?
There are many thousands of sex offenders on lists. They have had their day in court and were found to be sex offenders. That’s for a reason, so that if one lives near you, you know to avoid them. I don’t think persons should ‘assume’ they really weren’t guilty, they just got on the list because somebody didn’t like them. Certainly if you meet a person, you can form your own opinion, but if you know they are a registered sex offender, at least be forewarned
One additional thought:
Clarence Thomas made the point that “dignity” was something that couldn’t be taken away, right?
(I have a bit of a problem with that point, as my last post explained.)
Back ten plus years ago, when The Lawrence decision threw out Texas’ anti- sodomy laws, Scalia was upset that the majority decision decriminalizing gay sex and GIVING dignity to gay people would make gay marriage inevitable. The rights granted (given) by the state conveyed dignity upon the recipients which gays did not have while their behavior was CONSIDERED BY THE STATE to be criminal.
Then, dissenting the DOMA/Windsor decision, Scalia again decried the majority opinion that gay people deserved the same dignity as straights, saying that this wording “well armed” those who would seek marriage equality.
Apparently, Scalia understood what Thomas did not: that government CAN convey dignity, and DOES, and that the dignity conveyed carries ramifications Scalia appreciated, but did not want.
All this hoop-la over conveying dignity… or not… is a bit schizophrenic. On one hand, conservatives argue that dignity is above dilution or confiscation, and on the other hand they defend its secular restriction as if the World will come tumbling down if they do not.
@George Wells: Not to try to interfere with your discussion, but I think there is a difference in what they’re talking about. I think in both cases they were talking about attempting to dignify a situation that has never been dignified to the public. Not to give ‘personal’ dignity to the individuals. The assumption being that if what they were doing, the situation, they considered to be right and proper, they would have their ‘personal dignity’ which no one can give or take away.
Well, you are right that Retire05 and I are trying to find the correct LANGUAGE with which to evaluate what both Thomas and Takei were talking about. I suspect that both the Thomas/Takei and the Retire05/Wells exchanges have largely been exercises in comparing apples to oranges so far.
You touch on the same issue. It seems to me that the important differences all boil down to the question of what “dignity” is and where it comes from. Some people – I won’t name names – believe that our individual “dignity” comes as a gift from God. Other people believe that our individual “dignity” comes from within ourselves, and still other people believe that our individual “dignity” comes from the relationship we have with others: our society, our government, and our friends and associates. This “dignity” derives from the respect and approval we get from all of those sources. (Note that I specified “individual dignity.” This was to avoid adding yet another layer of confusion to this discussion.)
If you examine what I have said already concerning what I think “dignity” is, you will discover that it is consistent with my ambivalence toward the concept of God. I am intellectually agnostic, and this requires that I not make the definition of “dignity” depend on a “supreme being.”
Correspondingly, Retire05 is a “believer,” and that fact allows her to tie “dignity” to Him, if she so chooses.
In my case, the concept of “dignity” becomes meaningless in the absence of other human beings. In her case, it means something even if she’s the last person on Earth.
With this difference in perspectives, it is no wonder we have some difficulty at times appreciating our differences of opinion.
@George Wells: I can’t really disagree with your comments/statements. I think I would prefer a definition of personal dignity as a strength that comes from within, regardless of the ’cause/reason’ for that feeling. Certainly, I feel a religious person would most likely attribute that dignity to a supreme being. Others might think that personal dignity comes from within from a feeling of self worth. Regardless of the source, I think the feeling or net effect would be very similar. So while society may take away a person’s dignity, through simple embarrassment, or other means. I think the chance that would also strip personal dignity would be slim, but probably could happen. But, then I think people can void their own personal dignity in several ways. To stay in a less controversial area for an example, consider this. A man and woman are married. He embarrasses her, publicly, for no reason except hatred or just meanness. He would likely not affect her personal dignity much at all, but he would literally destroy his.
This is an interesting discussion.
But it is made confusing because of the definitions of dignity by the various participants and original debaters (Takei and Thomas).
I noted how often terms’ definitions get changed so fast by those in the PC and Left crowd.
Today I found a new twist on the 1st Amendment.
Maybe she just doesn’t understand the meaning of certain words.
Thank you for acknowledging my effort to give fair analysis of this interesting “dignity” issue.
I would suggest that when the government places its controlling fingers around your jugular – in a manner of speaking – one of the things it is intending to do is rob you of any “personal dignity” that you might have. When you are judged criminal and accordingly incarcerated, you are stripped of the symbols of your individualism (your personal belongings) and you are treated with as little personal respect as is humanly possible. There is no measure of your worthiness of honor and esteem in that arena.
Similarly, a military recruit is stripped of the same thing, the message in that case being that from ground zero (induction) the recruit has no dignity and must earn respect through his actions and accomplishments from that point forward. There is no place in the military for the recruit’s civilian “dignity.”
From a different direction, I think that a person’s SELF respect might indeed play into what we are calling “dignity,” but there again, this “self respect” derives in large measure from how we interact with other people, and how they react to that interaction. We are “proud” when we do something “praiseworthy,” with the “praise” generally coming from OTHER people. We might THINK that what we have done is worthy or honorable, but we depend on the acclamation of others to confirm that suspicion. I still conclude that if we were not social beings, we wouldn’t have much use for “dignity.”
And from this perspective, Thomas’ comments don’t make too much sense. Takei wasn’t very “dignified” in his rebuttal, to be sure, and he said some things that deserve the blow-back that he’s received. But I understand where he is coming from.
And I also get a bit tired of the complaint that the discrimination gays have personally experienced, and the discrimination Orientals have personally experienced doesn’t compare with the discrimination Blacks have faced. It’s just not that different. Thomas wasn’t alive during slavery. Any discrimination HE has encountered is more or less the same as the others.
@Nanny G #57:
I wouldn’t put a whole lot of importance on anything that Tammy Baldwin says… would YOU?
She clearly hasn’t got a clue.
But she isn’t attempting to redefine “dignity.”
She is misinterpreting the Constitution.
The question of the definition of “dignity” isn’t a partisan one, and it has nothing to do with political correctness. The question isn’t Democratic or Republican, it’s theological.
@George Wells: 58
George, you are saying that the personal dignity may also be called self respect. I would agree with that. In fact, I think many times they are used interchangeably.
I can’t speak from a personal position other than observations, but I’d probably agree that the discrimanation of blacks and homosexuals are fairly equivalent. I’d actually think it would be easier in many cases, back in the 50s or 60s to be black than to be homosexual.
military, yep, they tried to make you feel useless, but I really enjoyed it very much. Had a good time in the Navy.
I likewise enjoyed boot-camp, because I understood the various psychological warfare tactics that were being used on us. Like the use of sleep-deprivation to wear down resistance to authority – there was no need to get recruits up at 3:30 in the morning to go out and stand in line for two hours until the sun rose and the chow-hall opened its doors. But I didn’t laugh outwardly, or smile for that matter, because none of the folks in charge had any sense of humor save for torturing recruits. Now, I hear, they’ve gone totally soft – can’t even insult recruits, because it might hurt their feelings. Gee…