By Brendan O'Neill, MercatorNet
To invite the government to give us phony equalities by recognising gay marriage is to invite greater state intervention into our personal lives.
I think one of the most maligned words in the English language is “discriminate”. These days that word is mostly used negatively. It is primarily used to mean making harsh, even oppressive judgements against people based on their sex, or their sexuality, or their ethnic origins.
The more positive — and in some senses truer — meaning of the word discriminate is getting lost. And that truer meaning is the cultured ability to perceive or note the differences between things. The use of discrimination in a quite honourable and even clever way, as a means of making judgements about the different values attached to different things, is being buried beneath the more common use of the D-word to describe every slight against individuals or groups.
That is a shame, I think, because we really need to recover the ability to discriminate. More accurately, we need to recover the important role of making judgements and recognising the differences that exist in our society and in people’s life experiences. And the reason we need to do that is because we live in an era of what we might call phony equality. An era in which what is presented to us as “equality” is in fact homogenisation; the imposition of sameness; a tyranny of relativism; ultimately, the denial of people’s right to exercise even that clever, cultured form of discrimination and to make judgements about the different ways in which people live. In such a stifling climate of top-down sameness, it is really important that people take a stand and be discriminating.
The gay marriage issue captures brilliantly how degraded the notion of equality has become. If you listen to government ministers and gay-rights campaigners, you will believe that gay marriage is all about equality, all about equal rights. It is referred to as “equal marriage”, to drum the point home. And of course, this means that anyone who criticises gay marriage can be written off as a friend of inequality, and no one wants to be thought of in that way.