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Culture War Roundup for the week of February 26, 2024

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I, like the rest of the country, feel like nothing good will come of the election. However, I feel this way for a slightly different reason than your average person, and probably closer to the average Mottezian.

I actually don't really care too much who is president. Either one of them would IMO do a good enough job. I mostly care whether the president impacts my everyday life or causes nuclear war. However, though it isn't his fault directly, having Trump in charge would impact my everyday life negatively, mostly because it would fuel another 4 years of incessant leftist whining all around me, from all my friends and family, along with people starting to (erroneously, IMO) see and declare that racism and sexism is everywhere again. It'll start causing fights between me and my wife again. My workplace and all local institutions will start making statements about how they're standing up to Trump and racism. Under Biden, I have truly enjoyed some nice peace and respite from politics.

However, I find this state of affairs to be very irritating. It feels like the left, or at least the leftists in my life, are taking an infantile tactic: we better win or we'll whine and complain for 4 years. I don't respect sore losers, and moreover, I don't like the fact that there is no path forward for the right.

Scott said this back in 2016:

If the next generation is radicalized by Trump being a bad president, they’re not just going to lean left. They’re going to lean regressive, totalitarian, super-social-justice left.

Scott was absolutely correct here in how it played out. But what option does this leave the non leftists with? If the Democrat wins, then the currents move left. We get leftism enshrined into law over the next 4 years, because to the victor go the spoils. If the Republican wins, then the undercurrents move left, and more and more people get radicalized towards the left.

Is there a way for the currents to move right without the undercurrents moving left? Or is Trump just uniquely bad at making that happen? I'm tempted to say that this is just the fact that Trump is a polarizing figure, but at the same time, all the leftists I know scream bloody murder whenever a Republican is in command. They were infantile under George W Bush. And though I wasn't around then, I know many people who are still salty over Reagan and act like he was the worst.

If you live most of your life surrounded by leftists and consuming leftist media, then of course leftist whining is the type of whining that is most annoying to you.

As someone with Republican relatives and in-laws, I assure you that rightist whining over the last four years has been both intolerable and often scary. I can't imagine what it's like to live in right-leaning communities at a time when most believe the election was stolen and they're living under the equivalent on an anti-pope.

4 years of Biden has not particularly enshrined leftist values into law, as far as I'm aware? Some of the massive infrastructure spending was earmarked towards renewable energy, I guess, but that's not exactly super-radicalized social justice leftism. As far as I can tell, the law has moved to the right significantly during Biden's term, because of Republicans owning the Supreme Court and most state legislatures.

Honestly, I think that the way to make things move right without backlash is to give in on the tiny culture war sticking points while persuading people on the underlying conservative norms.

Legalizing gay marriage was seen as a radical leftist movement, but the actual result was that all the gay people - and most importantly, gay artists and icons and culture warriors - stopped living as radical counter-culture outsiders challenging every pillar of the nuclear family, and switched to being respectability-politics-first normies living quiet lives in the suburbs with 2.5 adopted kids. Conservatives had to give up on oppressing gay people, but managed to bring them largely into the tent of traditional marriage and neoliberal economics and so forth.

So do it again. Say fine, trans women are women, and they should be modest and wear makeup and stay at home to raise the adopted kids. Say sure, diversity is a strength, so lets hire some black CEOs who align with our mission to crush unions, roll back regulations, and lobby for tax cuts for the rich.

Basically, assimilation. It's actually true that the basic conservative values are appealing to a lot of people, and a comfortable default for a lot more. A lot of people will happily fall back into those values without thinking about it, if you just stop doing things that look explicitly bigoted or unjust or cruel in ways that get them mad and turn them against you.

  • -12

Much like Walterodim, I supported gay marriage back in the day, and have come to deeply regret that support in light of the transgender movement that followed. I too consider all the "crazy" religious slippery slope doomcasters to have been vindicated.

I don’t find that line of reasoning very convincing. If the religious critics were right, it was in a stopped-clock sense.

Here are some circa-2010 objections, mostly on theological grounds. Either it’s a sin or it’s not. Either the denomination can extend rites to unrepentant sinners, or it can not. Lots of link rot, but in the statements I could access, churches weren’t justifying based on a slippery slope.

Here and here we have articles debating the slippery slope, but it’s towards polygamy. That’s a more credible threat than this 2004 scare story about horse marriage, though it’s more a vehicle for delivering the full slate of polygamy, social consensus, and “think of the children” arguments.

Transgender politics wasn’t in the Overton window at this point. It still wasn’t as of 2012, from what I see. Which makes sense—their issue isn’t marriage, or even equal rights. The current debate over social acceptability is categorically different.

I’m left with an impression that churches had their theological debates. The secular public backed those up with arguments like the slippery slope against polygamy. Nobody talked about the tiny, weird minority within the minority. But once that group gained traction, pattern matching kicked in, and suddenly this was the next step of the slippery slope. I don’t buy it.

The religious types told me that the LGBT squad wouldn't be content to just win and go sit down, but rather would return with a new set of worse and disgusting demands. They were correct. Pointing out that they didn't guess the exact flavor correctly isn't that interesting to me.

I don't need you to "buy it", I'm just telling you why I will absolutely never give the LGBT movement another inch under any circumstances.

And that proves way, way too much. It applies just as well to anything you already find unsavory. “My outgroup will demand something disgusting” is a heuristic that almost always works.

Except the LGBT movement wasn't part of my outgroup at first, the religious weirdoes bitching about it were. That outgroup predicted that the LGBT movement would escalate with a series of increasingly unreasonable and disgusting demands, and sure enough here we are.

So no, I didn't apply a heuristic of "my outgroup will demand something disgusting" whatsoever. Rather a movement that was at first nominally part of my ingroup started demanding to teach queer theory to kindergarteners and keep children's "gender transitions" secret from their parents.

Have they won? Gay marriage in the US only holds due to a Supreme Court ruling. Which is able to be overturned much as we saw with abortion at any time. It is very precarious. As I pointed out, in the UK where gay marriage was legally put in law by a Conservative prime minister and thus is much better protected, the trans movement does in fact seem to have lost allies and steam.

If they haven't actually won then complaining they didn't sit down after winning is missing the point.

There were court challenges attempting to overturn Roe and Casey quite regularly when they were in effect- what’s one trying to overturn obergefell?

I distinctly remember seeing a twitter thread in which a gay relationship advisor (that's bracketed (g (r a)), not ((g r) a), mind you ;) ) wrote that the religious were right, it was a slippery slope, and it's a good thing that it was. @TracingWoodgrains, help me out, I remember you conversing with that guy.

(that's bracketed (g (r a)), not ((g r) a), mind you ;) )

You included a bracket smiley in your bracketed explanation of the bracketing.

My hat is off to you.

I always struggle to decide whether to add a corresponding parenthesis or not, when I do that. (That is, whether I should do it like he did it, or like this :).

You did it the right way before. This time it looks like you have extraneous punctuation.

Finding older commentary on socially-controversial subjects is hard at the best of times, and we're not in the best of times. Mainstream debate focused on bestiality, polygamy, and child abuse, in no small part because they were easy strawmen for each side to target; the role of each gender within the family was a major part of intellectual religious conversations and is... basically invisible from the internet now.

Transgender politics wasn't in the mainstream awareness yet as of 2012, but it had at least bubbled to political awareness in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act's Section 1557, and the ENDA/GENDA debates.

There were also more general arguments about a slippery slope to some unknown problem that are more readily available, though I understand the concern about this being so wide a prediction as to be meaningless.

((That said, I'll reiterate my general disagreement with somedude and walterodim's claim; the transgender movement long predates the acceptance of gay marriage or even Lawrence v Texas, and it's very far from clear that Obergefell had anywhere as big an impact for normalization of transgender stuff or for the political sphere as any of a thousand other things.))

We exist on an offshoot of an offshoot of the comments section of a psychiatry blogger who has openly practiced polyamory, and frequently discuss people like Aella, who promote sexual relations with multiple partners as an enlightened and superior alternative to monogamy. These discussions have been had here as recently as a few days ago.

Polyamory is also, as far as I can tell from my experience in it, rapidly becoming normalized in what's left of the atheist movement and the broader "nerdy woke people" subculture. Heck, my mom is an HR director in my conservative hometown, and lately had a job applicant who spoke openly about their poly lifestyle (they didn't get the job, mostly because they seemed legitimately crazy). This stuff is widespread, and I think it's more common in queer dating than straight dating. This is a slippery slope coming from the same people: gay people and nerdy woke people.

Maybe the slippery slope isn't leading to polygamy right now, exactly. But it has been, and is, pretty clearly leading to the normalization of polyamory. I think polyamory is more difficult to translate into the existing legal framework around marriage than gay marriage was. But if it weren't, I would be under no pretensions that Scott, and Aella, and Ozy (was he dating them at the same time?), and all the rest of the crew wouldn't be arguing their hearts out that recognizing plural marriages is a human rights issue (TM). As far as I'm concerned, it's just a matter of time.

Okay, I really thought about including this as an aside, because it was a much closer prediction. I agree that polyamory has gotten much closer to the mainstream. It is a bit weird that it’s done so without getting any traction in, say, divorce law.

Regardless, the OP is not regretting support for gay marriage because the religious were right about polyamory. I’m arguing that current trans issues are poor evidence for this slippery slope model, since they were neither predicted in the model nor obviously caused by gay marriage.

Is it true that gay activists, with their goal achieved, moved on to other progressive causes? Sure. Was keeping them occupied the reason people were intent on “defending marriage”? I don’t think so.