Here are two stories that don't seem to have that much to do with each other at first glance, but actually are the same story.
First, as everyone knows, the New York legislature voted late last week to legalize gay marriage within New York state. Now, I don't spend much time worrying about gay marriage. Although essentially a Catholic, and, at the very least, a person who subscribes to Catholic doctrine on sexuality and the family, I just can't get too excited one way or the other about the issue. The gay men and women whom I've known and been friends with have always treated me well and I hope I've always treated them well. I don't really like the notion that two dudes shacking up is somehow legally equivalent to my wife and I raising our three children, and I think that it's a sign of decadence in our society to pretend that they are, but then there are so many signs of decadence in our society right now, particularly with regard to marriage (the divorce rate, to name the most obvious) that singling out gay marriage as too peculiarly decadent and dangerous for the American family strikes me as a kind of scapegoating. If we could repeal no-fault divorce and make divorces much much harder to get as a parallel enactment to gay marriage, I might sign up. My point: families aren't disintegrating because of gay dudes wanting to wear white one day in their lives; they're disintegrating because straight men and women aren't taking the sacrament of marriage seriously enough.
What does bother me, though, is the fact that this was jammed through the legislature with a lot of lobbying and campaign money changing hands at the last minute. What bothers me is that, if the idea of gay marriage were put to the people of New York for a vote, I doubt very much that it would pass. After all, it hasn't passed anywhere else in America, including California, which is at least as gay-friendly and liberal as New York. So, once again, this is a case of a political elite executing a cram-down of their own values on the people, who have different values. Once again, they know best.
Here's the second story, and it's a doozy. As everyone knows, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Scott Walker's budget-repair/collective bargaining bill in a 4-3 vote, with the four conservatives (including newly-reelected David Prosser) out-voting the three liberals. Apparently a meeting among the justices about the vote turned contentious, and either Prosser without provocation choked a woman justice, Ann Walsh Bradley; or else Ms. Bradley rushed at Prosser with her fists flying, and Prosser, in defending himself, somehow touched her neck. I know which one I believe, but that's not the point.
The connection between the two stories? Maybe it's a stretch, but don't these two stories both suggest that the political class (and party affiliation notwithstanding) behaves in ways that are just alien to how the rest of "Regular Guy" America thinks and acts? To Regular Guy America, marriage is pretty simply defined... it's exactly what your grandmother and grandfather thought it was, which is two young people, a man and a woman, standing up in front of their families and their God, and pledging that they will be true to one another "til death do us part," and meaning it. And in Regular Guy workplaces, we don't get angry and run at each other with fists flying, or choke each other. What were they thinking?