Don't Twerk on My Parade
The currently small town of Taylor, Texas is in the middle of a real dust-up – competing Christmas parades. The sponsor of the traditional Christmas Parade is the Taylor Area Ministerial Alliance (TAMA), a group of Christian ministers. It seems that last year a group called Taylor Pride entered a float in the parade that the ministers took askance. Apparently they didn’t feel that twerking drag queens were very representative of the Christmas spirit that they hoped the parade would invoke. This year they changed the rules such that “all entries must be consistent with traditional biblical and family values.”
Stacey Osborne, spokesperson for the city of Taylor noted that the city, previously a co-sponsor of the event, could not participate in a parade that excluded particular groups and so the city is sponsoring a separate parade event right after the TAMA Christmas Parade. I can understand why the city of Taylor would not want to sponsor a parade that excluded any group of citizens (there could be legal consequences). But I can also understand why the Taylor area ministers would not want kindergarteners and toddlers wondering what a twerking drag queen has to do with Christmas. They might turn to their parents and ask, “Mommy, is that one of Santa’s elves?” What I can’t understand is why Taylor Pride would want to have a float in a homey Christmas parade when there are lots of Pride parades all over the state of Texas. Of course, I can’t understand why drag queens would want to read books to little kids in public libraries either, unless it was to groom them for something else.
The spokesperson for the city of Taylor also said, “The majority of the people in the City of Taylor are pleased that we're having a parade that's open to everyone.” It should be easy to see which parade draws the bigger crowd or if a lot of floats defect from the TAMA event. But if parades are supposed to be open to everyone, then perhaps the Taylor ministers should consider putting a float in a pride parade that reflects their biblical and family values. Then the kindergartner attending that parade could turn to one of (preferred pronoun unknown) two daddies and ask, “Daddy, what’s it like to have a mommy?” If a lot of family values organizations (and there are a lot of them) start having floats in pride parades, then perhaps the LGBTQ+ community will try and change the rules on their events. Or maybe everybody could just stop trying to disrupt other peoples’ events and be content to do their own thing.
Poor little Taylor, Texas isn’t going to be so little for very long. The Samsung Group recently announced that it will be building a new microchip fabrication plant in Taylor and construction has already started. The $17 billion investment and 2,000 new employees will have an enormous impact on Taylor’s 16,000 inhabitants. While there will be an employment boom for Taylorites, there must also be an influx of new residents with the skills needed to operate a fab of this size. Many will likely come from – oh, no – California. And that may have an impact on the Taylor area ministers’ Christmas Parade as well.
Change is inevitable, and change is coming to Taylor – big time. But not all change is good. And the Taylor area ministers are correct in trying to preserve what they see as good. The Christianity that the Taylor area ministers seek to promote has lasted two thousand years and has provided many benefits to humanity. The concept that we are all created in the image of god inevitably leads to the conclusion that we are all created equal and that nobody should be enslaved by another individual. The early abolitionists were all staunch Christians. The preservation of such a tradition should not be easily discarded.
This is the essence of conservatism. Conservatives resist change because the current structures of our society work pretty well. But works pretty well only has utility if we all agree on what works pretty well means. There must be a cultural cohesion on the general direction of society. We need to be working toward common goals.
As Rabbi Sacks related in his book Morality, Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, the distinguished judge Lord Devlin stated, “Without shared ideas on politics, morals and ethics no society can exist. If men and women create a society in which there is no fundamental agreement about good and evil they will fail.” But Lord Devlin felt that it was the job of government to enforce the morals and ethics of society. In a debate with Lord Devlin, Oxford professor H. L. A. Hart countered that although a society needs shared moral principles, individuals also need liberty to choose the direction of their life. Rabbi Sacks concludes that while a society needs shared political, moral and ethical principles, these principles are not immutable and can change over time.
Homosexuality has existed throughout human history (and perhaps even before that) and has been deemed acceptable or unacceptable by various different cultures. In the United States homosexual activity was illegal in many of the states until relatively recently (Lawrence v. Texas, 2003). In 1997 only 27% of Americans supported same sex marriage. Today 70% do. Our moral compass has shifted, and our shared principles must conform to these new moral imperatives.
But having the liberty to marry someone of the same sex, although strange to some, remains in line with American political principles that limit government authority over our lives as long as our actions do not infringe on the rights of others. Same-sex marriage harms no one but also provides some rights and privileges that married heterosexual couples enjoyed. Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can enjoy the same liberty that comes from the limitation of government power.
Other changes promoted by the LGBTQ+ community do infringe on the rights of others, such as forcing women’s swim teams to allow biological males who claim to be transgender to be on the women’s swim team and in the women’s locker rooms. These groups are attempting to override parental rights for their minor children with transgender beliefs. Supporters of transgender ideology are trying to use the power of government to force compliance to their ideological beliefs. That is un-American.
Rabbi Sacks also quotes two Dutch scholars studying multiculturalism as saying, “Sharing a common identity builds support for inclusion, bringing differences of ethnic and religious identity to the fore evokes the very exclusionary reactions it is meant to avoid.” Perhaps the LGBTQ+ float in the TAMA Christmas Parade would have been better received if they had emphasized how they share many of the same values as the Taylor area ministers and had not emphasized how they were different.