David Brook's latest NYT column on gay marriage is, well, rather weird. After reading it a couple of times, it's clear Brooks thinks gay marriage is ok, but his argument is so convoluted and condescending it makes you want to dunk his head down a toilet bowl.
Brooks essentially argues that for the past 40 years, homosexuals have only been concerned with promoting their permissive lifestyle, but now they are growing up and want to act like heterosexuals. He writes:
Last week saw a setback for the forces of maximum freedom. A representative of millions of gays and lesbians went to the Supreme Court and asked the court to help put limits on their own freedom of choice. They asked for marriage.
Marriage is one of those institutions — along with religion and military service — that restricts freedom. Marriage is about making a commitment that binds you for decades to come. It narrows your options on how you will spend your time, money and attention.
Whether they understood it or not, the gays and lesbians represented at the court committed themselves to a certain agenda. They committed themselves to an institution that involves surrendering autonomy.
Brooks wants the gays to be grateful for this wisdom he is bestowing upon them - after all, 'the composure class' (a term he invented for genetically superior upper middle class white people) is an exclusive club, and he is personally giving them the key.
Writes Matt Taibbi:
Brooks is trying to make a "point" here – he takes something like 800 words to make it, but it boils down to a single snarky observation: "Isn't it ironic that these same people who've been fighting for the right to personal indulgence for all these decades since the Sixties are now fighting for the right to be legally restrained?"
This is absurd on so many levels, it's hard to know where to start. First of all, gays and lesbians are not asking to be forced into marriage – they're actually campaigning for a new legal choice they didn't have before. So technically speaking, they are campaigning for more freedoms, and Brooks's argument is already fatally screwed.
Brooks's attempt to frame the gay marriage issue in these terms fits with his world view that liberal social attitudes have destroyed the fabric of society. Continues Taibbi:
The reason Brooks lunges for that other explanation is because he's been so convinced for so long that many of America's problems stem from a post-Sixties inability (of poor and non-white people, usually) to manage all of our newly-won personal freedoms. He's spent his entire career longing for a return to the formal and informal constraints of some of our old social conventions – you know, the days when having a child out of wedlock brought shame from a community, and people didn't just live together, but got married, and folks listened to their priests and rabbis, instead of just shagging and getting high all day long and living on welfare and credit cards.
I mean, I guess it's a good thing that Brooks is on board with gay marriage and his voice might help further the cause, but wow, what a dickish way of saying it...