Subtitled How Elites Brought America to Same-Sex Marriage, this book by Darel E Paul examines the phenomenon of same sex marriage, and a lot more. Paul is Professor of Political Science at Williams College – my alma mater and that of my two kids; accordingly I know a lot about its collective attitude. For him to take on this subject is an act of moral courage or complete insanity, depending on how you view the degree of enforced conformity that prevails at such elite institutions. Of course, they don’t call it conformity – on campus it goes by the code word diversity.
Published last year the book has only been reviewed, as far as I can tell, by Academic Questions the journal of the National Association of Scholars an organization that tries to buck the hurricane force winds that blow to the left from most of America’s colleges and universities. The first review of the book on its Amazon site didn’t appear until June 6 of this year; as of this writing it’s the only one there. Even the conservative press, what little there is, has not reviewed the book. You might expect a book by Professor Paul to be published by Yale University press or another similar elite marque. But it bears the imprint of Baylor University Press. I’m virtually certain this is not an accident.
Paul does his best to appear impartial and non-judgemental about this dangerous topic. He documents everything he says; one third of the book is appendices. But the facts are so startling that anyone who approaches this text with an open mind, assuming such a person can be found or even exists, will come away with the view that the country has been pushed down a path that has an uncertain and perhaps inflammatory end.
After discussing how attitudes to sex and religion have changed over the past half century, Paul considers Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and the passage of Brexit. He sees them as manifestations of disapproval by those who feel oppressed by the rule of elites; but he doesn’t consider this obvious possibility until the book’s penultimate page. He thinks, however, that the deplorables will lose. He also thinks that the sexual revolution like the French Revolution may devour its adherents.
Every society in human history has rules about sexual behavior. We may have pushed ours far from where they rested a short time ago, but polygamy, incest, and sex with children are still off limits. Oscar Wilde may be a hero to the sexaully liberated, but he’d still go to jail if he reappeared in the 21st century. He had a predilection for underage boys. And by the way, incestuous same sex marriages are illegal in some states. Figure that one out.
The book’s thrust is how homosexuality went from perversion to privilege in two generations. Elites have moved beyond toleration and concluded that homsexual marriage is somehow superior to the heterosexual variety and that same sex parents offer a better environment for child rearing than the conventional man-woman family. Evidence for this belief, no matter how shaky, is welcomed while that to the contrary is defenestrated.
So what constitutes an elite? Paul spends much space describing the characteristics of the elite. Their liberated beliefs about sexuality are a defining descriptor. They tend to be college educated, bicoastal, democrats, are professionals or managers, college faculty, journalists, and have largely abandoned religion. Psychiatrists and psychologists have led the march to homosexual toleration. Toleration didn’t last long as it was quickly replaced by mandatory acceptance of homosexual virtue. Interestingly, childless couples or singles were in the vanguard of those with the most virtue signaling regarding the positive nature of homosexuality, in general, and same sex marriage, specifically.
Paul devotes many pages to describing how the press, The New York Times get pride of place, reported data that supported positive beliefs about same sex marriage. Conversely, when a study appeared that indicated that children of same sex women had outcomes that were suboptimal its author, Mark Regnerus, was attacked in the press, the journal that published the study was also attacked and its editor was even sued by a journalist who wanted access to all the documents concerning the study’s review prior to publication. The study was called “bullshit” by an allegedly impartial scientific auditor. Nothing like this reaction was engendered by weak studies which hued to the elite position about same sex marriage.
Diversity, which appears to be interchangeable with same sex marriage is universally described as a good thing though never with solid data to show why. Paul remarks that, “No corporation or university seeks to develop a diverse secretarial pool, a diverse kitchen staff, a diverse shipping department, or a diverse landscaping crew.”
I just got a long email from the San Francisco Opera proudly decaliming that they have established a new Department of Diversity, Equity and Community with a full time director. They must have a lot of extra money. What will this department do? Hire artists who always sing flat and tone deaf conductors? This is virtue signaling at it most elevated. It’s also as anodyne as oatmeal for breakfast.
The SFO is not alone in its quest for more diversity, most of the Fortune 500 companies are equally devoted to it as the academy. “Diversity in higher education management is today so hegemonic that it stands as an orthodoxy against which only the most foolhardy (or cantankerous) now speak.” Despite the total devotion to it by big business and higher education, it’s actually hard to provide hard evidence of its value. Even as religion is discarded, faith persists.
Paul thinks the battle is over and that the elites have won even if they’ll get eaten by their own creations. I’m not so sure. The world’s two biggest religions, Catholicism and Islam, both forbid same sex marriage. Oddly the elites do not hold this prohibition against Islam which occupies a protected space. They do disdain Catholics who hold what the elites believe to be a bigoted and wrong set of values. According to the elite opinion makers, you are a bad person if you do not share their value system and accordingly should be punished. Paul believes that the elites will bring down the full force of law against those who are outside the boundaries of right thinking – as they define it. Religious liberty and LGBT rights are trapped in a zero sum game. He thinks religious liberty is now up for grabs.
One little quirk. Some of the Williams ethos has adhered to his writing. When an unspecified third person singular is referenced, it’s always she. Eighteen years in Williamstown inevitably leaves a mark.
From Tolerance to Equality is a book that deserves a wide audience, but I doubt it will get it. Paul will be lucky if he doesn’t get kicked out of the Williams College faculty club. He was brave to write this book and will likely not go unpunished.