Monday, April 7, 2014

Conference Take-Away

      Some of you may know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (sometimes referred to as the Mormon or LDS Church) held its semi-annual General Conference this past weekend. The Conferences are times for the senior Church authorities to speak directly to the membership of the Church, as well provide general reports on Church operations (e.g., membership, growth, and other statistics). Although the speakers are not assigned topics or themes, there are sometimes certain topics that multiple speakers will raise.

      It is clear that the Church is not changing its position on gay-marriage. And there were several speakers whose topics revolved around withstanding persecution and/or resisting popular movements or philosophies that contradicted the teachings in the scriptures. Clearly the Church authorities are expecting an uptick in persecution against the Church and its members for not supporting gay marriage.

      Those fears are well justified based on various news stories. Obviously, the primary one is the forced resignation of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla because of his contribution in favor of the California proposition to prohibit gay-marriage (although it is notable that the Supreme Court has turned down an appeal of a New Mexico photographer that did not want to take photographs at a gay wedding). Charles Krauthammer has branded the attacks from the left as totalitarian. Kevin Williamson writes at the National Review that the treatment of Eich is part of a larger pattern of liberal fascism. After discussing other examples, he writes:
But then Soviet-style repression has long been a dream of the American Left. Consider the abuses of psychiatry that were the great hallmark of the Soviet way, and then consider that there is a cottage industry today among left-wing psychiatrists arguing that conservative political views represent a form of mental disorder. That psychiatric approach to suppressing dissent has spread quickly through the intellectual sewers of the Left, with writers everywhere from Daily Kos to Salon diagnosing instances of “RWA” — right-wing authoritarian — disorder among their political rivals. Robert Altemeyer, the father of this asinine school of so-called thought, denies that there exists such a thing as a left-wing authoritarian.
 He also observes:
The broader campaign of retaliation against gay-marriage opponents is not simply a matter of private citizens’ airing their views about a corporate executive; those private citizens are acting as an extension of, and in at least some cases in collusion with, political agents in positions of official authority who are abusing the powers with which they are entrusted, in order to further private political ends.
 Richard Fernandez similarly writes of a Cultural Cold War:
The removal of Eich is about fascism. It’s about one group of people forcing everyone else to bow to their hat on a pole; it s about book burning, compelling obeisance to, as Jame Surowiecki put it, “a universal ideology” in a manner so bald that even those who might gain politically in the short term from it are horrified by its crudity.

Perceptive gays understand now, if they hadn’t noticed before, that a whole mechanism now exists for persecuting people whose views are deemed unacceptable. Today it is directed against Eich; once it was directed against Summers; on other occasions it was employed against Clarence Thomas. But sooner or later, probably sooner, they understand it will be directed against them — or us — or someone. And if it can get a corporate CEO who is widely regarded as the father of Javascript it can get pretty darned anyone.

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