Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sherif Girgis reemerges to say that he has been coerced

According to Sherif Girgis (who seems to be the junior partner in the Robert George—Ryan Anderson—Sherif Girgis triad) the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell  is an extension of the Sexual Revolution which seeks to coerce people's approval. Or, as he puts it (in pretentious pseudo-intellectual prose):
For decades, the Sexual Revolution was supposed to be about freedom. Today, it is about coercion. Once, it sought to free our sexual choices from restrictive laws and unwanted consequences. Now, it seeks to free our sexual choices from other people's disapproval.
Girgis is wed to the false notion that his approval is either sought of required. Later on—and more unhinged—Girgis writes:
In short, the ideas that Obergefell imposed on our government could hardly stop there; as with an evangelical creed, the legal system could not embrace them without feeling bound to spread them. Obergefell is thus best seen as a religious bull from our national Magisterium, the Supreme Court, by the pen of its high priest, Justice Kennedy.
Girgis is intent on conforming everything to the Catholic Church. And, no, that is not how Obergefell is best seen. Occam's Razor prevails and the simplest explanation is that the ruling in Obergefell allows gay people to marry. That's it. Nothing more. While the Church doesn't approve of gay people and, thus, their marriages, no one is affected by same-sex marriage other than those thus wed.George, Anderson and Girgis wrote a book that was published with the intent to influence the Supreme Court. It did not. Its contention was that same-sex marriage would have some mystical negative effect on so-called “traditional marriage.” This theory found its way into numerous amicus briefs, some by the triad, some by others, that did not carry the day. Now, a year later, Girgis is determined to prove that he was right all along.
One year later, we can take the measure of its consequences—and prepare for future ones—only if we spell out the ideas it embraced, and why they demand to be enforced.

To hold that same-sex marriage is part of the fundamental right to marry, or necessary for giving LGBT people the equal protection of the laws, the Court implicitly made a number of other assumptions: that one-flesh union has no distinct value in itself, only the feelings fostered by any kind of consensual sex; that there is nothing special about knowing the love of the two people whose union gave you life, whose bodies gave you yours, so long as you have two sources of care and support; that what children need is parenting in some disembodied sense, and not mothering and fathering. It effectively had to treat contrary views as irrational.
What part of the Establishment Clause does this schmuck not understand? “One-flesh union” is theology. Moreover he is determined to reduce gay relationships to fucking. All this is not based on social or medical science. Nope, it is based on the writings of then Cardinal Ratzinger who is a theologian and other eunuchs who are responsible for the catechism of the Church. And if Mr. Girgis doesn't want his views treated as irrational then he should be, well… more rational. We are a secular society and, at least according to the Constitution, the views of the Catholic Church are irrelevant to public policy.

Girgis never does get around to detailing the consequences of Obergefell. Nor does he explain what it portends for the future. Then there is this gem:
Beyond marriage, this doctrine entails that sex doesn’t matter, or that it matters only as an inner reality. Since I am not my body, I might have been born in the wrong one. Because the real me is internal, my sexual identity is just what I sense it to be. The same goes for other valuable aspects of my identity. My essence is what I say and feel that it is.
Girgis is in love with his own pretensions. Yes, Sherif, sexual identity is one's thinking conception of gender or what our brain says what sex we are. Notwithstanding the teachings of the Church (again by theologians and catechists) science has determined that there are times when gender identity differs from chromosomes and genitalia. It is real. It exists.

Which is followed by this bit of pseudo-intellectual nonsense:
The doctrine is also individualistic. On the old view, you could know important things about me unmediated, by knowing something about my body or our shared nature. And our interdependence as persons was as inescapable as our physical incompleteness and need: as male and female, infants and infirm. But if the real me lies within, only I know what I am. You have to take my word for it; I can learn nothing about myself from our communion. And if I emerge only when autonomy does—if I come into the world already thinking and feeling and choosing—it’s easy to overlook our interdependence. I feel free to strike out on my own, and to satisfy my desires less encumbered by others’ needs.
Yes, yes, sexual identity is just a gratuitous impulse. It changes with the winds. Sure. People just line up to volunteer for this kind of derision. Transgender people (and there aren't that many of them) are fiercely determined to be the gender that their brains have assigned to them. There is no known medical intervention that will change any of this. Girgis has no answers because there are none. Therefore, as a civil society, we should accept people for who they say they are most of the time.
But again, mere acceptance of this vision of the person isn’t enough to explain Obergefell. The Court did not simply allow new relationships; it required their recognition as marriages, as similar to opposite-sex bonds in every important way. In other words, it didn’t simply free people to live by the New Gnosticism. It required us, “the People,” to endorse this dogma, by forbidding us to enact distinctions that cut against it. It held that your dignity demands more than the freedom to lead your life as a purely spiritual subject. It requires us all to treat you as a purely spiritual subject. Anything else is demeaning; it implies that you are essentially bound by a body.
Sorry but, again, Mr. Girgis' approval is neither sought nor required and, again, Obergefell permits gay couples to enter into a civil marriage. The primary purpose of a civil marriage is to create a marital estates. Girgis is free to believe that these folks are not really married. Equal Protection means exactly what it says. In law gay couples are the equal of opposite sex couples. The Church is free to believe otherwise. Girgis is free to believe otherwise. I can assure him that those couples are not offended because his approval or disapproval is entirely irrelevant. A bit later on:
This vision of the self explains otherwise novel and puzzling ideas: e.g., that you can’t be authentic without acting on your sexual desires, and that a physically healthy biological male might have been a woman all along. And its consequent illiberalism—the impulse to police dissent—explains an otherwise astonishing development. It explains how the status of absolute orthodoxy—which same-sex marriage advocates fought for decades to secure, and still achieved with astonishing speed—was transferred to transgenderism virtually overnight.
Please. Trying to make life a bit easier for transgender people (who Girgis doesn't believe exist in the first place) has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. What is true is that some of the activism that had been devoted to same-sex marriage is now focused on transgender rights. That does not mean that it is wrong to advocate for a tiny fragile minority within the same community. If Girgis wants to assert that the push for transgender rights is a consequence of the ruling in Obergefell he is not entirely wrong but the issues are distinctly separate so he is mostly wrong.
Again, none of these effects came by force of law from Obergefell. But they are all of a piece with the New Gnosticism and its inherent coerciveness. We’ll see more of its effects in the near future. We’ll see more parties enlisting courts in the unfolding coercion, by deploying the perfectly tailored concept of dignitary harm: the pain of being told by others that your choices are immoral. Legal academics have argued that this sort of harm strikes at the heart of the common good, and that judges should count it against the moral and religious liberty claims of those seeking to avoid complicity with others’ sins.
That is correct. None of this has a damned thing to do with Obergefell. The concept of dignatary harm isn't about to make Girgis a victim of persecution. Presumably he is referring to intention infliction of emotional distress. The bar is quite high. The cause has to be beyond the bounds of common decency and the distress that is suffered has to be quite severe. Exactly why Obergefell would engender such suits is unexplained, at least to my reasonable satisfaction. Girgis has a need to feel persecuted. He projects that character flaw onto others who prefer not to be obsessed with their own victimization. In conclusion:
We must show that counting dignitary harm in this sense (painful though it is) against any civil liberty would be variously incoherent or self-defeating, and directly at odds with the values of classical liberalism. It would—by design—shut off the springs of moral and political reform, right at the source. But we will not succeed in that effort until we have faced head-on the New Gnosticism that drives it. This will require spreading our own evangelical creed: that we are not disembodied subjects but fleshly icons of the invisible God; whose worth comes not from extorted approval of our personal choices but from His infinite, undeserved love.
Amazingly, Girgis is a recent graduate of Yale law and is completing a PhD at Princeton. When he finishes that he should become a monk. He is presumably a smart guy. Too bad he has squandered his intellect. They all want to be the next Aquinas. The original wasn't all that great to begin with.

To be fair, Girgis posted this to First Things, a conservative Catholic outlet. It was intended for that audience.

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