The BLOG: Politics and Law

The New McCarthyism comes to Dixie

Every child has a mother and a father. That’s biology. But if you think that biological reality entails the natural right of every child to be connected to her own mother and father then Nathan Deal, the Republican Governor of Georgia, thinks you aren’t as “warm, friendly, and loving” as Jesus wants you to be.

All three of the world’s major, monotheistic religions teach that God created man and woman different. And all three teach that marriage is inherently the union of the two. But if you act on those teachings in the public square then Nathan Deal, the Republican Governor of Georgia, thinks you should be made to suffer whatever legal consequences can be fashioned against you by the advocates of the ever-expanding norms of equality and non-discernment. You see, Governor Deal wants all Georgians to be free to work together regardless of their religions, unless your religion is one of those three major, monotheistic ones that teaches that marriage is inherently the union of a man and woman, in which case your views are inimical to the “character of Georgia.”

American law has long taught that religious liberty is not a mere concession of privilege granted to you by the state but rather a pre-political right that the state has a duty to recognize, declare, codify, and enforce in its positive laws. Nathan Deal, the Republican Governor of Georgia, thinks that his state has no such duty because The First Amendment. (No kidding. That’s what he said.)

The Governor of Georgia has here in his hand a list. His state is infested with judgers. And since Georgia cannot tolerate people who exercise judgment, Georgia must eliminate legal protections for those who judge. Especially religious people who judge. Because the only loving religious people are those who exercise no judgment.

Judgment is of course another word for discrimination, which is another word for thinking and acting for reasons (as opposed to acting based on sub-rational motivations or whims). We all exercise judgment, which is to say we all discriminate. That’s what makes us humans and not animals. We want judgment against wrong-doers. We celebrate discrimination in favor of healthy foods and against unhealthy foods. We applaud thinking and acting against slave-owning and in favor of those who earn the Congressional Medal of Honor. And so on.

Many people reasonably judge that there are important differences between man and woman and between marriage and non-marriage. Those people include clergy, religious assemblies, non- and for-profit business operators, civic groups and associations, and other individuals and groups who do good things in Georgia. Those people and groups are not as important to Governor Deal as large corporations such as Apple, Disney, and the National Football League, which insist that anyone who makes such judgments must be exposed to whatever legal consequences can be fashioned against them by the advocates of the ever-expanding norms of equality and non-discernment.

So, Governor Deal caved to Big Business and threw conscientious Georgians out into the elements. Of course, as Governor Nathan Deal, the Republican Governor of Georgia, is surely aware, the climate into which he just tossed conscientious Georgians has become very hostile to conscience, to the rights of children, to the good of marriage, and to the common good generally.

The freedoms to act on the basis of one’s convictions that children have natural rights, that marriage has natural duties, and that obedience to divine law is a valuable exercise, are eroding rapidly. The legislation that Governor Deal vetoed would not have extended those freedoms. It would not even have codified all of them. It merely would have codified some of the least controversial freedoms. Governor Deal thinks that people of conscience should not even enjoy those.

David French gets to the heart of the problem. “[T]oday is a day of defeat. Once again, press releases and hashtags triumph over founding principles and ancient liberties. Small men give away great freedoms.”

Governor Deal cannot bring himself to see the value of conscience or the good of natural marriage, and so he has no interest in exercising the freedoms of conscience and expression himself. For him, the loss of the great freedoms is no loss; it is a net gain. He has no conception what the great freedoms are for, and so has no appreciation of their value. Freedoms purchased by others at enormous cost — in many cases, the last full measure of devotion — and used by great men and women to build a society of ordered liberty appear to the small man as worse than worthless.

Adam J. MacLeod

Adam J. MacLeod

Adam J. MacLeod is a member of the Maine and Massachusetts (inactive) bars and an Associate Professor at Faulkner University, Jones School of Law. He is the author of “Property and Practical Reason” (Cambridge University Press) and dozens of articles in journals in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, many of which can be accessed at his website.