This week has been shaping up to be one of the best examples yet of the real divide between red and blue, which isn’t as much ideological as it is one of basic human understanding. The American conservative movement is utterly unable to grasp the difference between: A) Things that are their business, and B) Things that are other people’s business. And they’re apparently entirely unafraid to be conspicuously insufferable about it.
How we got to a point where greedy employers could proudly proclaim that their religious “liberty” required them to deny their underpaid underlings contraception coverage, where people who bothered to pursue a career in pharmacology can turn around and refuse to sell products on their personal Jesus’s shit list and expect to remain employed, and where Supreme Court Chief (!) Justices flatly ignore the Constitutional question at hand while churlishly whining about teh awesome, unstoppable power of teh gheyz and their lavender-scented mind control, I’ll never know. But I have my suspicions.
It seems clear that “liberty” doesn’t mean what these guys think it means. For them, liberty is like a pie of more than usual tastiness, a sliver of which doled out to another necessarily cuts, however slightly, into their already oversized share. And since this rather tortured and false conception fits so neatly with their economic ideas, it was quite easy to put over, but it’s so poisonously dumb that it need to be routed, again and again.
No, you snaggle-toothed geezer with the fetus poster for whom personal reproductive issues are a distant memory at best, we don’t care what you think of others’ reproductive choices. No, you bloated and decidedly unmarriageable NOM President, Maggie Gallagher, we don’t even want to think about what you might define as wedded bliss, or not. And, no, Mr. celibate priest, who may or may not have been actively involved in protecting sexual predators, we who have normal, consensual sex lives will wisely seek advice on such subjects elsewhere.
The crux of liberty, as it seems continually necessary to point out, unfortunately involves others enjoying it, too, in ways you wouldn’t, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles (sorta, and so far) in what was once thought the freest nation on earth. Note to wingnuts, robed or disrobed (I’m talking to you, David Vitter et al…): If your definition of “liberty” involves taking away the liberty of someone else, it just might not be “liberty” you’re after. Most likely, it’s the opposite, which this week’s arguments have shown is as readily evident to to its proponents as it is to its detractors.
But as a rhetorical device and (pardon the pun) Hail Mary Pass, “liberty” is hard to beat. It dresses up the aggressor in their favorite drag (pun pardon request #3 has been noted in the building…) of victimhood while muddying the substantive legal issues, both of which are, frankly, necessary, given the facts at hand. It’s pretty hard to sell a such a Randian court majority on the idea that extracting a confiscatory six-figure Death Tax from a rich New Yorker, lesbian or no, is not, somehow, actual harm, just as it is drink-sprayingly ludicrous that House Republicans somehow are suffering in all this, and are therefore entitled to standing.
When it comes to liberty, you’re either for it or against it, and not just for you.