Manufacturing Consent on Same Sex Marriage
Author's preface: I'm gay and I oppose the notion of same sex marriage and the engineering of children for same sex couples. Readers can view my recent speech on this topic given in the rotunda of the Utah State Capitol at the Celebration of Marriage Rally here. An Amicus brief I authored along with Professor Robert Oscar Lopez and Alana Newman for the United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, in support of the State of Utah in Kitchen v Herbert in which we assert that children need and deserve both a mom and a dad can be found here. The issue of same sex marriage boils down to adults selfishly seeking to define a right to have children over and above the right of children to intact biological families.
During a week in which a massive snowstorm delivered a one-two punch to much of the nation, a tiny avalanche of rulings and calculated legislative maneuvers thundered down from courts and statehouses across the country.
Kentucky: A judge ruled that the state must recognize same sex marriages from other states, even though Kentucky has a same sex marriage ban in place.
Virginia: A judge overturned that state's same sex marriage ban, which went undefended by the state's new attorney general.
New Mexico: The state's attorney general has announced he will not defend his state's prohibition on same sex marriage.
Indiana: The State Senate, despite a 37 to 13 Republican supermajority, voted to postpone the inclusion of a marriage amendment on the ballot until 2016.
The notion that there is something unconstitutional about not buying into the equivalency of genderless marriage to gendered marriage has seized the imagination of those who hold power.
But who or what is really winning here?
Let's be clear: the American people have not fallen in love with the notion of same sex marriage, not by a long shot.
The idea of same sex marriage didn't win at the ballot box in November 2012, or at the U. S. Supreme Court last June, or among certain jurists and legislators since then: The marketing strategy developed by leftist social psychologists did.
Over the years, the Left has diligently developed strategies which win. They don't promote ideas which win on their own merit; in fact, they have had amazing success promoting ideas that most people would normally reject.
How did the Left gain the upper hand with same sex marriage? A technique identified by Cass Sunstein and Timur Kuran explains the simple, effective process: Availability Cascades.
An AVAILABILITY CASCADE is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation by which an expressed perception triggers a chain reaction that give the perception increasing plausibility through its rising availability in public discourse. The driving mechanism involves a combination of informational and reputational motives: Individuals endorse the perception partly by learning from the apparent beliefs of others and partly by distorting their public responses in the interest of maintaining social acceptance. Availability entrepreneurs -- activists who manipulate the content of public discourse -- strive to trigger availability cascades likely to advance their agendas ("Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation," Timur Kuran and Cass Sunstein, Stanford Law Review, 1999).
In other words, thinking which once was completely implausible outside only small fringe groups, rapidly gains social acceptance -- dominance even -- because individuals fear that if they don't publicly support this novel idea, they will appear unsophisticated, behind the times (as in "knuckle-dragging Neanderthal") and will become a social outcast in one's place of work, school, neighborhood, church, or even in one's own family. Their critical thinking is pushed aside by their inward mechanism which screams "self-preservation!"
The process has proven to work so well, that the White House last year announced the creation of its Behavioral Insights Team, whose mission is to find subtle and unobvious ways to control our behavior. Nicknamed the "Nudge Squad" because it derives much of its impetus from Sunstein and Richard Thaler's 2008 book, Nudge, they will most likely soon set out nudging us all toward government-dependent, politically correct, Julia-type lives. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's dedication to transformational change is appearing to be more and more very Brave New World-ish.
No tactic of the powers opposing Judeo-Christian mores has proven more effective than Political Correctness, wielded skillfully by the Radical Left.
Why is Political Correctness so effective? Non-adherents are threatened with social isolation and anaclitic depression. Though we don't often recognize it, the tyrannical tool wielded within young peer groups which is such a powerful force in middle schools, high schools, and college campuses retains all its horrifying power to intimidate American adults, causing many to suppress free inquiry and rechannel behaviors.
Information and opinion cascades (also Cass Sunstein and Timur Kuran) promulgated by the Left are meant to overwhelm and intimidate. They cause otherwise freethinking individuals to engage in preference falsification (choosing to publicly deny one's true thoughts and values in order to maintain a positive standing within whatever social group they happen to find themselves in) due to the threat of social isolation.
The Media plays an enormous role in creating information and opinion cascades by controlling the narrative, i.e., the flow of both information and opinion. In this way, the Left has been wildly successful in the Manufacture of Consent (Walter Lippman), leading people to falsely conclude that implausible notions, such as same sex marriage, are inevitable, when they are not.
But the processes which have led to the surprising success of the Radical Left are also its Achilles Heel.
Consent that is manufactured is not real. They haven't won in the arena of ideas: They have won through tactics of manipulation, engineered by social scientists, psychologists, clever political operatives and legions of volunteers.
As such, the moral high ground the Radical Left now seems to enjoy is extremely fragile. Popular support has been fabricated. Their only hope of maintaining this perceived moral high ground is to continue to suppress free speech and religion because they can't risk the proclamation of Truth -- either robust expressions in public forums or whispers in private -- whether it be the truth of the Gospel, the truth of natural law, or even simple common sense.
Simply put, this means that the recent victories won by the Radical Left is ground which can be regained. If we are as disciplined and focused as the proponents of same sex marriage are, then ground will not only be retaken, but new inroads will be paved. Therefore, we shouldn't despair; we should regroup and prepare to wage the battle in a new and different way.
Mainstream media is entranced by Political Correctness, which makes our task extremely difficult. Media will never stray from the politically correct narrative, no matter how implausible or ludicrous that narrative may be. We should ignore them, brush them aside and expect nothing but roadblocks from them.
That's why at this stage in the game, speaking freely one on one, in small groups, or within congregations and parishes, or other civic organizations is more important than ever. Anything that is said by opponents to the radical left agenda gets twisted in the Public Square by media collaborators. So, the Public Square should not be a primary place of conducting business. Our work will continue in homes and church and community meeting rooms.
In a sense, we are not unlike those in the not-so-distant past who opposed the tyranny of totalitarian states, who were unable to broadcast their beliefs, but found a way to competently build large, local networks of relationships which would ultimately lead to the collapse of totalitarianism. We must be creative, and we will. People have found success working under much harsher, more tyrannical conditions than those which confront us now.
This is a call to men and women to rise up to supplant the career politicians and media types who now dominate the national narrative. We can no longer remain silent. We need solid citizen legislators, citizen journalists, and citizen activists to step up to the plate and start filling positions at every level of government, to fill the blogosphere, the airwaves and opinion pages with authentic, pro-human, pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-liberty views. We need to wrest away the narrative from the radical, anti-humanist Left and put an end to the dull drumbeat, the one-note regressive samba, that dominates the media and juridical and legislative chambers today.