CRB: Gay rites

We conclude our preview of the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books this morning with a humdinger. Thanks to our friends at the CRB for the privilege of previewing the issue for Power Line readers. Please think about subscribing here for the ridiculously low price of $19.95 and getting access to the whole shooting match online immediately in addition to home delivery of the hard copy at some time in the indefinite future courtesy of the United States Postal Service. Limited to three pieces from this magnificent issue, we have passed over a wealth of riches that will delight and inform the intelligent reader.

What’s with the accelerating evolution of public opinion on gay marriage? Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell addresses the question more elegantly than I have stated it in “Gay Rites.” Caldwell hangs an argument concerning freedom and the formation of public opinion on a critical review of Harvard law professor Michael J. Klarman’s From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage.

The backlash of Klarman’s subtitle refers to the perceived threat to the gay agenda of voters rescinding judicially decreed gains. The anti-democratic sneer implied in this usage is of a piece with the campaign of intimidation waged by the forces of supposed enlightenment over the past decade.

For a movement claiming to seek liberation (Caldwell has his doubts), the movement has proven itself rather comfortable with the suppression of dissent. “The most troubling aspect of the gay-marriage movement,” writes Caldwell, “is that, more than any social movement in living memory…it aims not to engage in lively debate but to shut it down. Scurrility has become a norm. In April 2009, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, told a Miss America judge she thought marriage should be between a man and a woman and got called a ‘dumb bitch’ for it on the judge’s website. If it is now easier to call people dumb bitches, then it makes no sense at all to extol the gay marriage movement as a moral advance.”

Caldwell is the author of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. It is a smart, thoughtful, brave, politically incorrect book. Caldwell’s review reflects the same qualities and is the best thing he has written since the book. Please check it out.


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