Friday, October 30, 2015

Glimmer, glimmer, pants on simmer

The Defense of Marriage Act,
lately ruled unconstitution-
al by the Supreme Court of
the United States, rested on
a bit of statutory hubris a-
kin to the Fugitive Slave
legislation of the 19th Cen-
tury, except in reverse. It
declared that no marriage
obtained in one State may be
regarded as valid in another
if contrary to the latter's
policies. Like the Fugitive
Slave laws, it was a marvel-
ous obliteration of that Uni-
on which crushed the Confed-
eracy of the 1860's, and was
yet another vestige of the
losers' indignation.

President Clinton signed the
legislation outside of camera
range and at that hour, albeit
dull for the news cycle, which
corresponds most widely with a
freedom of association, Satur-
day night.

Until just this week, a little
shame accrued to the name of
that otherwise pristine Admin-
istration, which even its tit-
ular leader confessed as indis-
putable. With what rapture, 
then, did a sudden and innocu-
ously unself-interested revi-
sionist portrayal of it, reach
adherents of Mrs Clinton, via
radio. She declared the Defense
of Marriage Act to have been a
defense of the Constitution, it-
self, from phobic reinscription.

The great power of this lady,
to align the stars of the past
to the exigencies of her pres-
ent, has never been known to 
fail her stalwart imagination,
and to exempt her followers
from a crushing by hypocrisy.

It would be a pity if her hus-
band, the highest court in the
land, the ineradicable memory
of contemporaries of the act,
and an absolute tidal wave of 
commentary already document-
ed, should now be interposed
between this sunlike beacon
and the understanding of hu-

Yet with this wholly unnec-
essary invention, given that
humanity has moved beyond
that most fugitive flight
from moral duty, Mrs Clin-
ton defies again the devil
in the microphone, we always
knew was there - the bewitch-
ing instrument, an indefatig-
able temptation, even to the
noblest who confront its power,
only to succumb to its genius 
for drawing them out. Her cour-
age under fire - even, infamous-
ly, invented fire - is boldest 
under pressure to prove every-
body wrong.

Hugh Trevor-Roper
The Crisis of the Seventeenth
  Century: Religion, Reforma-
  tion, and Social Change
    The European Witch-craze
    of the Sixteenth and Seven-
    teenth Centuries
Secker & Warburg, 1984©

No comments:

Post a Comment