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Secular Servility Print E-mail
By Anthony Esolen   
Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Back in the heady days of the eugenics movement, before Hitler smudged its reputation for a time, Julian Huxley blamed “the ascetical element in Christianity” for resistance to forced sterilization of citizens deemed unworthy to have children. 

In doing so, Huxley provided us with one of the minor consolations of ideology. For if we set aside the toxicity, ideology really is a funny thing. It can’t help but be so, when you try to fit the wide world into a little grid. 

G. K. Chesterton said Huxley made “an exceedingly funny joke.” Since asceticism implies “the rejection of some earthly joys and jollities,” Huxley must have believed sterilization of other people to be among those innocent delights. “Because we are virtuous,” wrote Chesterton, “scientists can have no more cakes and ale and castrating expeditions among their fellow citizens.” Thus do we dour Malvolios “frown upon the gayer and more frivolous side of life; denying to the medical profession its natural form of merriment.”

Such humor is with us still. LifeSiteNews reports a decree by Thomas Lakaszuk, the Earl of Education for the Province of Alberta. Milord Lakaszuk belongs to the “Progressive Conservative” party, a gag in itself. All schools, including private, religious, and home schools, will be forbidden to teach that homosexual acts are unnatural or immoral. 

This decree, says a spokeswoman, will ensure that students learn to respect “diversity.” Try to imagine:  columns of Canucks, hockey sticks over their shoulders, Canadian Goose-stepping, turning neither to the right nor the left, crying, “Diversity, diversity, divert not from diversity!”  

But there’s more. The Earl justifies the decree referring to The Charter of Rights. For those ignorant of Canadian history, in 1215, at Moose Jaw, Canadian barons compelled the King to take over schools in the realm, to curtail freedom of speech, to subject the Church to oversight by royal stewards, and to overrule local liberties in the name of national unity, in return for second-rate hospitals and a lapdog press.

Not that Canadians are the only humorists. We also leave comedy writers in despair. American congressman and senators are known as “lawmakers,” though they might as well be “walrus painters” or “unicorn hunters.” For they do not pass laws. They pass the authority to pass laws. 

They do so by means of bills subjected to severe scrutiny. These bills are typically written by lobbyists, jobbers, and undergraduates with at least B averages, and pass through subcommittees and committees without being read, until they arrive at the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, the Senate. 


           The Tsars come out at night. (Ivan the Terrible by Oleg Shuplyak)

Senators can tell what is in a bill without reading it. Typically, they hold the bill against the forehead – or, if it’s more than fifty pounds, a pageboy does it; they shut their eyes, mutter a favorite slogan, and see Danger to the Body Politic, or Absolute Necessity in These Times of Crisis.

These aren’t so much laws as laterals. The Tsars come out at night, and act with all authority in heaven and on earth. The Tsarina of Health, Katerina Sebelius, issues her edict, that when any man shall hear the federal trumpet, he shall fall down and worship the golden image the Tsarina has set up – and pass out free Fornication Kits to all.

Thus shall be thwarted the function of healthy reproductive organs used in a reproductive act. Or when a healthy young human organism is prevented from settling in the womb to grow; or the kicking fetus is torn to pieces or roasted in salt. This is reproductive health.

The United States Army – the Army! – is now requiring its men to experience simulated pregnancy. This will help them understand their gravid fellows, and may even come in handy for tricking enemy combatants. “No mas!” they will shout, holding their bellies. This is called “empathy.” 

So also when the Tsar decrees that fifty naked men will be herded into a small shower and never care one little bit whether the man next to them is gazing where he shouldn’t; or that the same fifty men will eat and sleep in a cubby the size of a boxcar and not feel one little bit odd about odd fellows dreaming about fellows: that too is “empathy.”

And a person who believes that there shouldn’t be all these Tsars and Tsarinas? That a man’s home – and that means a woman’s home too – is his castle? That freedom of religion should not be abridged? That a private school is a private school? That the reproductive organs tend to result in reproduction? That moral directives that prevailed until five minutes ago ought to be respected? That the family is the most important guard against ambitions of the state and its armies of petty would-be Ivans and Katerinas? 

Or that men who risk death for us ought to have some little say about the conditions of their work? That boys ought to be brought up as boys, as all cultures have done, notwithstanding all their fine variations, and girls as girls? That a male cannot marry a male, as a matter of obvious biological fact, and that therefore the State has no business arrogating to itself the power to contradict logic and nature? 

That person is a “theocrat.”

As they say, you couldn’t make this stuff up. 


Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest book is
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. He teaches at Providence College. 

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Comments (9)Add Comment
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written by Gian, February 28, 2012
"That a male cannot marry a male, as a matter of obvious biological fact"

Not exactly a matter of biology. In fact, biology allows males to be attracted to males and derive pleasure and lifelong companionship.

It is the question of what marriage is: a supernatural or at least super-biological thing.
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written by Randall, February 29, 2012
Mr Esolen, well put. You remind me of Mark Steyn in this column. How the absurdity of the situations you describe is not face smacking obvious to some people is beyond me.
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written by Achilles, February 29, 2012
One cries out from our deepest and most savage wilderness, the university! This shines a light on the tameness of Brave New World. Baby Huxley couldn’t imagine this little civilization in his dystopia. I think Chesterton could have. A fantastic article Professor Esolen! Thank you very much
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written by BobW, February 29, 2012
Gian - I'm sure you know marriage is about much more than "pleasure and lifelong companionship" even on a natural level. If not, why would any State have an interest in protecting and promoting this sort of private arrangement between citizens?

Thank you Dr. Esolen, for another glimpse of sanity amidst the storm that surrounds us.
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written by Achilles, February 29, 2012
Gian, you are playing with words. It is a matter of biology and physiology that two men may not couple as if married. It is a biological fact that heroin can cause death. Still, many people choose to go against biological facts and are attracted to and abuse drugs for a lifetime, usually a shortened one. That the absurdity that “same sex” couples can “marry” is only the fruit of the efforts to normalize perversion in a relativistic world. When you say “derive pleasure and life long companionship” it is in a very qualified sense, certainly not in any comparable way to a monogamous, faithful loving male/female couple with children. The very idea is an orc to an Elf.
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written by Dave, February 29, 2012
A friend and I were conversing over dinner and it came up that one of us has recourse to St. Thomas a Becket. Back in the day, Thomas was a deeply sinful man who came to his senses and attained the holiness of martyrdom, because as Archbishop of Canterbury he resisted the King Henry II's notion that the Church was in service to the State and should do exactly as told. 100 bishops -- 100! -- all the ordinaries of the dioceses of the United States -- are also saying no to the mandate. This unity of the episcopacy should give us both pause and courage. We are far away from turning back the tide. But let us hope that it has begun.
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written by Robert reilly, February 29, 2012
Humor is the best revenge.
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written by peter wilson, March 02, 2012
Prof. Esolen--I wish you'd take on Bill Mahr in one of these columns!
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written by Brian A. Cook, March 29, 2012
Are you mocking people who dare to disagree with you? Are you reducing them to walking jokes? I thought human beings were human beings. The sad fact is that the Church is routinely accused of being the Tsar throughout history.

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