In The Transcribed Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye, “Nancy” (Betty-Jo Biolofsky) has managed to get hold of some incriminating photos with which the villain, Rocky Rococo, has been blackmailing her and her husband. She quickly leafs through them and then exclaims in a shocked voice, “It’s not us!” Then, in a calm, interested voice, she continues, “It’s an interesting approach, but it’s not us!”
That is what came to mind when reading E. J. Dionne’s column in The Washington Post of Thursday, August 1, 2013, “Can Gays Save the Family?” Dionne’s contention seemed to be that because so many same-sex couples wanted to call their unions “marriages,” and “gay marriage” is “overwhelmingly popular” among the younger set, this would restore traditional marriage and families as the basic unit of society.
It’s an interesting approach, but it’s not us.
Whatever your stand on same-sex unions, you have to question Dionne’s logic. I read through the column more than once, and I could not figure out how including same-sex unions in the definition of “marriage” is supposed to strengthen the traditional understanding of marriage as a union of persons of the opposite sex as he kept insisting.
You don’t strengthen the original meaning of anything by expanding the definition to include disparate or contradictory elements. You only create confusion over what is meant by the redefined term. Can you, for example, define “capitalism”? No, really. What does it mean?
As to the alleged salvation of the family by redefining marriage . . . it’s directly analogous to what John Maynard Keynes claimed he did: saving the economy by re-defining money, private property, and contract (and anything else that took his fancy). Even a few Keynesians have begun to doubt that the Keynesian New Deal brought the United States out of the Great Depression of 1930-1940. The dollar went from “as good as gold” at approximately 1/20 of an ounce of Element 79, to the near-worthless piece of paper we have today that floats around 1/1300 of an ounce of the yellow stuff.
As for the present economic “recovery,” anyone who knows even a little history is extremely nervous about an overblown stock market where share values have been inflated by massive government creation of debt-backed money, and yet unemployment remains high even after the usual sleight-of-hand by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real inflation that includes food and fuel is eating consumers alive, and the national debt is reaching levels that would delight Lenin.
No, redefining critical institutions and concepts may be an interesting approach, but it’s definitely not us — or anyone else.