Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Offsite Post: ‘The Procrustean Constitution’

We have seen how Mississippi, with its campus free speech bill, totally ignored its own State constitution in favor of federal 1st Amendment arguments.  Now Texas is doing likewise in response to the San Antonio City Council’s decision to reject Chick-fil-A’s request to be a vendor in the San Antonio International Airport.  The opposition to this decision rests mostly on federal 1stAmendment grounds:

AUSTIN, Texas (BP) — Religious liberty advocates held “Save Chick-fil-A Day” at the Texas Capitol yesterday (April 17) after the restaurant was banned from the San Antonio airport for donating to religious non-profits.

Religious freedom group Texas Values hosted the event in support of two bills before the Texas Legislature banning religious discrimination, weeks after the San Antonio City Council cited Chick-fil-A’s religious outreach as the sole reason for blocking the franchise from the San Antonio International Airport.

Texas Values sponsored the event as the legislature held public hearings on House Bill 1035, dubbed the Free to Believe Act, which would provide freedom of conscience protections; and House Bill 3172, the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect religious beliefs and moral convictions regarding marriage. Both bills are still in committee.

Thankfully, local laws haven’t been forgotten entirely in this case; there are references to city codes.

But this is a definite trend:  Legal challenges based on local and State laws and charters are overlooked in favor of those based on the federal charter.  This is not how the constitutional system was promised to function (though the reader should, and probably does, know full well that Hamilton et al. knew all along that the promise was only a deception).  We were told that it would allow for a wide freedom in how localities (States, counties/parishes, cities, neighborhoods, etc.) organized their respective corporate lives.  What we are seeing now is the opposite:  The U. S. constitution has in effect become a Procrustean bed on which all local variety of law and custom is being hacked into a one-size-fits-all system.

Whether it is 2nd Amendment lawsuits by the Right against city or State gun restrictions, or 14th Amendment lawsuits by the LGBT Left against the Christian marriage laws of States, the trend is only growing stronger.  There are a number of organizations dedicated to making every nook and cranny in the union fit a particular pattern:  the ACLU, Gun Owners of America, Fourth Amendment Center, First Liberty Institute, and the rest of them.

But why must Bangor, Maine, live exactly like Pawnee, Oklahoma, or Phoenix, Arizona, like Eau Claire, Wisconsin?  Because we no longer have cohesive communities in the States with their own common history and identity.  Folks no longer even know the stories of their own families.  They must either go to a genealogist, or humiliate themselves by sending part of their most secret self, their DNA, to stand naked before some faceless lab technician working for Ancestry.com, to discover something about their past.

We have not got fully formed people who are united by their common faith, history, songs, poems, and the like.  What we have got are millions of uprooted, disconnected individuals (the ‘virtual communities’ of Twitter and Instagram don’t count) who move from one place to another every few years or so in order to cash in on a better job offer from a national or transnational corporation.  They may live in a place, but they are not part of it in any substantial way.  Towns, cities, neighborhoods:  They are all super-sized hotels now, temporary holding pods for men and women constantly on the move up the corporate ladder who have jettisoned their past.  One of the few things they have that gives them a sense of belonging is politics.  And people who are not grounded in a particular place, culture, family, etc. will walk with their heads in the airy regions of the sky; they will be drawn to the most idealistic, theoretical, and abstract proposals presented to them.  This is why the idea of America as a ‘propositional nation’ has such a powerful hold on so many in the States nowadays.  Local, concrete institutions and traditions consecrated by the mists of time, to them, do not offer the same sort of power to ‘make a difference’ that national politics does.  They are too rigid, slow-moving, cautious.  But transformative, eschatological change must happen now, without any waiting.  Let all of them–birthplace, family, church, graveyard, neighborhood schoolhouse, county courthouse, and the like–be thrown into the seething cauldron of Progress to be fashioned anew according to the whims of the hour.

Thus, the U. S. constitution is now the iron bed, and ideology the knife, that these disciples of Procrustes use to shape their universe.  To quote the Holy Apostle James, ‘My brothers, this should not be so’ (James 3:10).  It is time we stopped fooling ourselves.  This system isn’t going to get any better.  . . .

 . . .


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

1 comment:

  1. I offer a mild disagreement with one point. While I wholly agree that the sense of 'community' dilutes itself for various reasons, I submit that
    Folks no longer even know the stories of their own families. They must either go to a genealogist, or humiliate themselves by sending part of their most secret self, their DNA, to stand naked before some faceless lab technician working for Ancestry.com, to discover something about their past.
    has a notable exception. I, as an adoptee, can _only_ discover my 'community' through genetic analysis. By submitting DNA, I have identified my birth mother, my regional and familial roots, and some of my family history. While I realize that it requires a voluntary invasion of privacy, I am willing to make that sacrifice to learn what I can about who I am genetically.

    I hope you understand, even if you do not approve.