Back in the sixties, when my generation was discovering sex (and there was lots of media attention being paid to the "sexual revolution") I recall a spate of books and articles assuring men who were concerned about their "endownments" that size was…
Back in the sixties, when my generation was discovering sex (and there was lots of media attention being paid to the "sexual revolution") I recall a spate of books and articles assuring men who were concerned about their "endownments" that size was not the issue. What was critical was how you used what you had.
If I can make a somewhat strained analogy, the same is true of government. We live in an era positively obsessed with the size of government. Politicians from both sides of the aisle talk about reducing the size of government, of creating "leaner, meaner" agencies, about the bloated bureaucracies in Washington. While I do not necessarily disagree with the proposition that government at all levels has gotten too big, I do disagree with the notion that size itself is the issue. The issue is not how big government is, but how intrusive it has become. It may well be true that the bigger government gets, the more likely it is to interfere in our lives, but we need to remember that it is the interference, not the size, that is the problem.
The real issue for the next century will be the role of the state in our lives. As the millenium approaches, we are seeing two very different trends emerge:a globalism that stresses markets in both goods and ideas, is accepting of diversity and innovation, and welcomes scientific and technological change; and a reactionary worldview that finds change and diversity profoundly threatening. Those who need the security of an "ism" come in lots of varieties–from "bible-believing" to Islamic fundamentalist to gender feminist–but they all want the government to make everyone else conform to their particular view of morality.
In the United States, it is particularly ironic that so many advocates of a greater role for the state are simultaneously found prating about reducing the size of government. The Dan Quayle’s and Dan Coats’ of the world, to use a couple of Indiana examples, blithely engage in rhetoric about "devolution" and the merits of deregulation at the same time they are advocating additional intrusions into the private lives of American citizens and dictating our personal moralities.
Recent referenda in Arizona and California gave us one of the most amusing examples of this schizophrenic approach to public policy. When citizens of those states voted to allow the medical use of marijuana, advocates of devolution and states rights went apoplectic. States should have the right to kick folks off welfare, but not the right to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana. Government should get off our backs–unless it is making you behave the way I want you to behave.
If this discussion seems abstract, I can assure you that it is relevant–no, crucial–to the gay community. In a free society, where not just the size but the power of the state is limited, those who are different can flourish. In a society where the majority uses government to impose conformity, all minorities suffer.
Freedom includes your right to behave in ways I deplore, so long as you are not harming the person or property of another. A government with the power to intrude in your choices obviously has the right to intrude in mine. Somehow, in the coming years, we have to insist that our lawmakers learn the difference between the size of government and the proper use of its power.