Monday, July 04, 2005

I'm not the kind to be vindictive

For various real-life-related reasons, I (obviously) haven't been writing much in the past few weeks, or even keeping up with domestic news at all, except in the most superficial way. I'm kicking myself, then, for not having sooner read and linked to N = 1 on the tipping point (with several subsequent followups) viz SSM, the CPC, and the frustration of being a broadly conservative, mildly-libertarian non-socon around here. Harper and the CPC appear to be opposing SSM with a tenacity, a ferocity, that they reserve for absolutely nothing else. Not health care, property rights, war, trade, separatism, terrorism... nothing. It is easy to conclude that fighting an inevitably losing battle against allowing gay Canadians to wed one another must be the single most important thing in the CPC platform. We hear from the CPC nothing but compromise on the issues that will actually affect my personal life: compromise on taxes, compromise on medicare, compromise on fatty foods for Heaven's sake. But on a matter which will not directly affect me at all, the CPC is ready (aye, ready!) to Fight To The Death. It has become readily apparent to me that the CPC doesn't actually care about my issues at all. They evidently care about the issues of those who don't much like gay people, and who don't think homosexuality is normal. But I like gay people--at least, I like them as much as straight people, which is to say I like them as much as I like any individual. And I think homosexuality is normal--at least, it's as "normal" as any type of human predilection in which no-one is injured and in which all participants engage willingly. I accept that for millions of Canadian Christians, Jews, and Muslims, homosexuality is considered evil. They're wrong, and I no longer wish to associate with a party that acts as if it agrees with these Canadians. People can think what they like. Canadians are free to think homosexuality a sin... although one wonders why it seems to be treated so much more seriously than other more injurious sins, like adultery or neglectful parenting. Actually one does not wonder at all. It is terribly easy for the self-righteous to condemn a sin which it is impossible for them to commit, such as having a romantic interest in one's own sex if one happens to have been born straight. A white man may as well consider Africans sinful because they have dark skin. This way of thinking is abhorrent to me. Yet I accept the right of people to hold abhorrent views, and I accept the right of churches to promulgate hatred from their pulpits. I believe in freedom of speech. I just don't want to be the one holding the song sheet. There's more. Much more. And it's bang-on. I've become similarly disillusioned of late, for much the same reasons. Here's something I haven't previously shared: The CPC has never received a single dime of financial support from me. It will continue to suffer in that fashion, notwithstanding that any contribution I could afford would be necessarily negligible. This isn't new; the last time I made a contribution to any party was in 2000, when I bought an Alliance membership. I declined to renew it, nor to substitute contribution to another party, for a simple (and, granted, perhaps simplistic) reason: I am not impressed. I have rarely been impressed, though the CA-PC merger made it seem possible I would be. Repeated gaffes and missteps this year and last, however...wooo. I wouldn't hold against the party the fact that it suffers from a lack of the country's most cynical, Machiavellian and skilled political operators, however; that comes with being in extended opposition. But I can certainly hold against the party a strategy I consider wrongheaded, and predicated on a very thin sliver of reasonable argument, that of C-38 as passed failing to protect individual acts of conscience by dissenters. I wanted to think that I could live with a purely strategic decision for the party to carp on repealing same-sex marriage for the sake of peeling away Liberal voters...but, really, why? Why, if only on that same strategic level? It is rampantly bullheaded to run on an issue that is so easily framed against Tories by the powers that be. And that's aside from the fact that, while I respect the right to personal opinion, I disagree with the perceived justice of repealing same-sex marriage, now that it's been passed. Look, I've been fairly appalled by a lot of people beyond either side of the indifferent centre on this, from social conservatives giving unsatisfying justifications against giving gay couples equal status and treatment before the law and the state, to rabidly po-mo libertines glibly advocating the criminalization of differing opinions. I don't think those opposed are generally homophobic (beyond those few that are), any more than those in support are entirely hostile to faith (beyond those few that are). But the rhetoric on both sides paints failure to enact their preferred social order as somehow apocalyptic, which does offend me. You know what? I really want to be able to not care. I want this to be a non-issue. I want it to be taken for granted that the state shouldn't actually be concerned with who you are or what you do, especially with another consenting adult, behind closed doors. (Criminal behaviour excepted.) I do not see any harm in government - no matter what the level - treating all couples equally, neither endorsing nor condemning any variation - at least on the level of taxation, inheritance, and all those other messy legal matters where marriage makes a difference to anyone but the two parties involved - on the formula of "legal person + legal person." That's not anti-religion; that's pro-equality. If it's true that every adult is and should normally be equal before the law, then it becomes increasingly difficult to justify some of the slightly more arbitrary exceptions. Same-sex marriage shouldn't be allowed under the law because homosexuality should be an Officially Valid Lifestyle as endorsed and defined by the nanny state, as many of the most obnoxious proponents were demanding; rather, there should be no barrier preventing any committed couple from having the exact same legal status with any other. If you want to make a contract under the laws of your faith as well as the common law of the state, go ahead, and peace be with you/mazeltov/right on, duuuude/blessed be, but that's secondary to recognition of what is effectively a civil personal contract. Thus, it becomes increasingly difficult to buy politely refrain from too loudly criticizing the party line for the sake of the greater good. Sure, maybe I'm just getting uncomfortable with the optics - but it's not as if that discomfort is unfounded; the fervour the Tory leadership (and continuing opponents of general social liberalism - which, yes, means the CBC-scare-quotes "extremist" socons again) are putting into pushing this, of all possible defects in the Canadian polity to be immediately and forcefully remedied, is just plain creepy - and doesn't make me feel as if the party particularly cares about courting the socially moderate. As N points out: I would be ashamed of myself if my vote were the single vote that put Harper into 24 Sussex, given that the only thing we can know for sure that he would do with his power would be to revoke equal marriage. Tell me truthfully: do we know for sure that he would cut taxes? Raise military spending? Rip up Kyoto? Abolish the CRTC? Disband the Wheat Board? No way, no how. For my money, that stuff all seems negotiable--all except for gay marriage. I'm disappointed that, for all I've defended the Official Opposition since about 1999 as being concerned with more than two-dimensional social conservatism, that this is the issue of which they want to make a self-defeating last stand. Again, I can respect that a large number of party members may believe it sincerely enough to want to run on, but that doesn't mean I have to excuse it. Come next election, the best way for the Conservative Party to provoke me into wasting my vote on the Libertarian candidate would be to follow through with what they're promising, and make a campaign entirely out of justifying a platform indistinguishable from the Liberal one, but for social policies - however well-intentioned they may be, and that's debatable - that I find more than slightly distasteful. The long and the short of it is, I'm still waiting to be impressed. Impress me, because my vote is going to have to be genuinely earned now.


Post a Comment

<< Home