The Tyranny of ‘Enforced Celebration’

UPDATE 12/10/2017:

While this essay is indicative of my thought at the time, I am not quite sure it is a fully comprehensive and rounded account of the issue.

The essay, as it stands, may lend itself to a degree of misinterpretation.

I would like to return to this topic in due course.

I stand by my rejection of ‘enforced celebration of any identity.’ However, a little bit of further, more textured discussion of the particular incident at issue would be valuable.

I am not, in principle, opposed to the notion of formal recognition of the history of individuals from sexual minorities.

The article below could do with a more rigorous contextual discussion, and with a more serious discussion of how freedom of conscience relates to employment contexts in a secular, pluralistic society. I hope to return and address this at a later point.

With all that said, here is the original essay.

— OTJ

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The National Trust were right to back down on the recent LGBT issue.

I have no problem with the National Trust telling LGBT history. However, LGBT equality is a partisan political and social issue, and it is better for an organization like the National Trust to stay above the fray. There are many ways to advocate for LGBT people; but this is something that must be done on a voluntary basis.

Having to wear a Rainbow emblem, as with Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk, is a deeply politicizing gesture, which is inappropriate for something as (relatively) apolitical as the National Trust.

Wearing a Rainbow pin, badge, ribbon, or anything else like that, is a voluntary decision.

Not wishing to wear one does not necessarily imply hatred for LGBT people. It is possible that such a refusal may be motivated by hatred, in some cases. But there are other possibilities.

For example, some people may feel confused and uncertain by recent sea-changes in morals and ethics; they may long for a time that, rightly or wrongly, they considered simpler and more settled.

Others may feel unsure what they think about the ethics of being and doing LGBT.

Others may disagree with some aspects of LGBT identity and behavior (whether perceived or real).

Others may be broadly supportive of LGBT people and even of certain causes, while disagreeing with the politicization of the National Trust.

What one is looking at here is another instalment in the long, but far from unending saga of ‘enforced celebration.’

Millennia of forced intolerance are now leading not merely to compulsory toleration, but ‘compulsory celebration.’

You are not permitted to be ambivalent, unsure, uncertain, anxious, skeptical, double-minded.

If the morals of the past were perhaps a little too simplistic, the Brave New World of compulsory celebration is not short of moralism and of Manichean tendencies. By the latter flowery phrase, I mean a tendency towards dividing the world, and sometimes in an overly simplistic manner, into the good and the evil; the damned and the saved.

I cannot accept that.

Let people wear the pins, or let them not wear them.

Compulsory celebration has no part in this.

It might, of course, be argued that there is no moral symmetry between wearing or not wearing them.

That may, perhaps, be true; for the sake of argument.

But morals and ethics aside, I am making a procedural point, about what is appropriate or inappropriate for the National Trust to do.

Alarming precedents must be avoided, where appropriate.

What about government bodies, like councils?

Private businesses?

Charities?

It is likely that, strategically speaking, people may spontaneously turn to loving and trusting LGBT people more, if they feel they are not being constantly harangued, harassed, and compelled to ‘embrace’ and to ‘celebrate.’

The gray area between full-throated affirmationism and hateful rejectionism is vanishing by the day.

Guard it preciously. For it is this solemn No Man’s Land, which will be the battleground of every future battle between liberty and tyranny alike.

Do not neglect your sacred responsibility.

Image attribution:

Public Domain, Linnaea Mallette

Public Domain, Junior Libby

Public Domain, NASA

Correction: The term ‘rainbow flag’ is too loose and figurative, and has been replaced with ‘rainbow emblem.’

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