The Libertine Police State

Shortly after Prep-Comm III, the Third Preparatory Commission meeting in anticipation of the 1994 Cairo World Conference on Population and Development, one of those “Senior Vatican Officials” who like to remain nameless told me an enlightening story. For his sins, the SVO had been condemned to attend Prep-Comm III and try to prevent it from calling for a universal human right to abortion on demand, which would then be formally declared at the impending Cairo conference. His tale of what unfolded during his week of Purgatory remains quite relevant, despite its age. In fact, one moment from Prep-Comm III sheds important light on recent events, including the Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood wars and the Obama administration’s determination to compel employers to provide contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization “services” those employers find morally abhorrent.

Like other U.N. circuses, the diplomatic circus of Prep-Comm III, held in New York, was accompanied by a parallel circus of international non-governmental organizations; and to that sideshow activists from around the globe flocked in their thousands, united in their commitment to lifestyle libertinism. The formal diplomatic proceedings in Prep-Comm III were harsh enough, with the Vatican coming under verbal assault from U.N. bureaucrats and European politicians for its principled opposition to “reproductive rights” that included abortion on demand. (The ineffable Gro Harlem Brundtland, then prime minister of Norway, dismissed the Holy See as “a small state with no natural inhabitants.” And that was on the mild side of the assault.) But it was in the INGO meeting that things really got down and dirty — and clarifying. There, as the Senior Vatican Official told the story, a somewhat scruffy Dutch activist got up and announced to all and sundry, “Let’s stop fooling around here. What we’re talking about is our right to f*** whoever we want, however we want, whenever we want.”

The Dutchman’s formulation may have lacked elegance, but it certainly didn’t lack precision. For that was precisely what was at issue 18 years ago, and it is precisely what is at issue today: Will the sexual revolution, which reduced sex to a recreational activity of no moral consequence, be protected, advanced, and indeed mandated by the coercive powers of the modern state?

There is irony in the fire here, of course. What began as a movement to liberate sexuality from the constraints of moral reason, custom, and law has become a movement determined to use the instruments of law to impose its deconstruction of human sexuality and its moral relativism on all of society. That is what drives those who urged the Obama administration to issue its “contraceptive” mandate, which is of course an abortifacient and sterilization mandate. That is what drives those who loosed the furies (including such viragos as Senator Barbara Boxer) on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, which had had the temerity to suggest that Planned Parenthood actually provide the mammograms Komen’s grants were paying for. It’s all about Leviathan as enforcer of the sexual revolution.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that — from Catholic bishops to upper-class foundation executives with previously immaculate reputations — is going to get rolled over by Leviathan. For Leviathan cannot be met at some mythical 50-yard line of “accommodation.” Leviathan can only be beaten.

This fierce determination to use Leviathan to make sure that that Dutch INGO delegate’s libidinous desires are requited might be tolerable if its effects were confined to those who want to, well, you know: whoever, whenever, however. But they are not. The sexual revolution distorts everything that gets in its way; and in due course, it will persecute anything that gets in its way.

To take one current example: The threat to religious freedom posed by the administration’s “contraceptive” mandate is not the kind of inadvertent political faux pas that Joe Biden and Bill Daley would have us believe it was. Rather, the order to religious institutions and employers to re-arrange their convictions to suit Leviathan’s pleasure is of a piece with the administration’s dumbing-down of religious freedom in its international human-rights policy. On numerous occasions, the secretary of state has declined to speak of “religious freedom,” but has referred to “freedom of worship.” Thus religious freedom is rendered a kind of privacy right that can be upheld so long as what happens religiously takes place out of the public square. This is manifestly absurd on its face: For if religious freedom is simply freedom of worship, then there is religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, so long as Christian or Jewish prayer takes place behind closed doors (and no one snitches to the Islamist purity police).

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George Weigel


George Weigel is an American author and political and social activist. He currently serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Weigel was the Founding President of the James Madison Foundation.

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  • markeyjoe

    From the CDC (US Gov;t):
    Estimated number of Americans living with an STD: 65 millionNumber of new cases of STDs every year: 19 millionNumber of Americans who will get an STD in their lifetime:  1 in 4Number of unsafe sexual contacts it takes to get an STD:  1Number of Americans who have genital herpes:  45 millionPercentage of Americans who have herpes and do not know it: 35Seconds it takes for a new person gets genital herpes:  30Number of people living with HIV/AIDS in America:  468,578Percentage of those people who are African-American: 44Number of people living with HIV who have not been diagnosed:  1 in 5Maximum number of days it takes to detect HIV with a DNA by PCR test: 28Estimated total number of cases of Chlamydia each year: 4,000,000Percentage of women living with Chlamydia who do not know it: 75Estimated cost of Chlamydia complications in the U.S. each year: $2,000,000,000Average cost of antibiotic to treat a case of Chlamydia: $15Percentage of people who have gonorrhea in the throat and do not know it:  90Percentage of people who have syphilis, do not know it, and develop complications years later: 33Estimated increased risk of acquiring HIV if infected with syphilis: 5 timesPercentage of IV drug users who are infected with Hepatitis B: 30Percentage of IV drug users who are infected with Hepatitis C: 85Percentage of straight men and women who have had sex with more than 5 people in the last 6 months who have Hepatitis B: 21Number of people out of 100 infected with Hepatitis C who will develop chronic infection:  Cervical cancer is most treatable when it is diagnosed and treated early. But women who get routine Pap tests and follow up as needed can identify problems before cancer develops. Prevention is always better than treatment.” “In 2000, an estimated 18.9 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occurred in the United States resulting in expected direct medical lifetime costs of $2.9 billion per CDC