Wednesday 14 December 2011

And yet they still keep coming…

                                      Zombies and liberals just don’t take no for an answer

Quite apart from the current agitation over same sex ‘marriage’, after the rejection of her assisted suicide bill in 2010, Margo MacDonald is apparently still waiting in the wings to have another go whilst Lord Falconer’s Commission on Killing will be reporting its conclusions in January.  

The war of attrition that modern liberals appear to be waging on traditional values raises the question as to how well the modern legislative process copes with profound questions of ethics and politics. The recently ended Scottish government consultative process on gay ‘marriage’ boiled down to a few yes/no questions with limited encouragement for an extended response. By breaking down a complicated issue involving our deepest notions of intimacy, sexual identity and the rearing of children into little more than a pop quiz, the role of philosophical reflection in these areas is replaced by a survey of desire: ‘What do you want?’ rather than any exploration of whether these wants are well founded.

 I’m tempted to suggest that, for any future public demonstration on these issues, social conservatives should adopt the following, snappily worded chant:

What do we want? Nuanced and careful reflection on human nature…

When do we want it? An open ended process over the course of several generations…

Quite apart from the detailed methodology of the consultation process so far, the finite and structured nature of any Parliamentary reflection should a Bill on same sex ‘marriage’ go ahead is also not the type of process to enable profound reflection. Patrick Harvie, the gay Green MSP, asks: ‘If there’s a robust argument that same-sex relationships are in some way wrong, an argument that deserves to be imposed on all of society rather than allowing people to reach their own moral view about their own personal life, let’s hear it.’ Quite apart from his conflation of the question regarding the reinvention of the institution of marriage with that regarding homosexual activity, what sort of argument does he expect? Could I, for example, wave at the fifteen volumes of von Balthasar’s Trilogy, and suggest that a good starting place would be there? When the Parliamentary committee begins to scrutinize the Bill (should it come) how much time will they spend with Plato and Aristotle, or even Judith Butler and Foucault?

The hubris of legislation in this sort of area seems to strike very few people. Instead, a few obsessives, armed with nothing more than blind self confidence and a desire to be busy will set about unwrapping a culture which, over the centuries, has evolved complex responses to complex issues. But if we’re advocating changes in legislation, here’s a suggestion from the ancient Locrians which could do with being introduced at Holyrood and Westminster:

After the code was firmly established, the Locrians introduced a regulation that, if a citizen interpreted a law differently from the cosmopolis (the chief magistrate), each had to appear before the council of One Thousand with a rope round his neck, and the one against whom the council decided was immediately strangled. Any one who proposed a new law or the alteration of one already existing was subjected to the same test, which continued in force till the 4th century and even later.

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