Friday, June 17, 2011

"The Liberty To Do What We Ought."

New York state appears on the verge of recognizing gay marriage, and that has put opponents of LGBT equality in a bit of a panic. Take New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan:
Dolan equated the move to allow same-sex marriage to life in China or North Korea, where "government presumes daily to 'redefine' rights, relationships, values and natural law."

"Please, not here!," Dolan wrote. "We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought."

Legalizing gay marriage is precisely akin to living under North Korean totalitarianism -- of course. But I'm more interested in that last line, that "true freedom" is not "license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought."

Can you think of a more Orwellian definition of freedom? It is a definition of liberty that could only appeal to a tyrant. Indeed, it bears far more in common with the standards of "liberty" in places like North Korea than marriage equality ever could. After all, Articles 62-86 of the North Korea constitution contain many putative protections for human freedom and liberty, but all are circumscribed by various restrictions which demand that any such "liberty" be in furtherance of the normative principles of North Korean socialism (see, e.g., Articles 63, 64, 68, 81, 82, 84, and 85). The effect, of course, is that they don't have freedom or liberty at all.

In North Korea, they have only "the liberty to do what they ought." In America, we've charted a different path.

1 comment:

PG said...

The only sense in which recognition of same-sex marriage is an impingement on liberty is the sense in which any governmental determination of what constitutes marriage, coupled with the requirement on the private sector to treat all legal marriages equally, inherently restricts liberty. However, since the Archbishop is not a libertarian and lacks the guts to declare that his concept of freedom would allow people who don't believe in interracial or inter-religious or post-divorce marriages to discriminate against people in such marriages, I'm OK with just ignoring whatever foolishness comes out of his mouth on this topic.