Okay, I am probably gonna get some flack for this comment but…. I kinda see his point. If a government can give you dignity, it can take it away. I think he is saying that human dignity is not for sale or barter. That if people believe that their dignity is arbitrary, then anyone can deny it or determine it.
With the perception of knowing who you are, no matter what anyone says or does to you, you are assured within yourself than no one, can take your human dignity away from you. I have to say that that point to me is very powerful and may be missed because he is talking against marriage equality. I believe that is how Africans survived through slavery, that is how any oppressed people survive, i.e., the Muslims in the Middle East who are so outrageously demonized. They still hole their heads up high. I could site so many other examples but suffice it to say, human dignity is not an arbitrary construct of someone’s imagination that can be imposed on another, unless….. the other accepts it and thus gives up their personal power and self determination.
Once a person believes that someone else can take their human dignity away, they whither and die. Only the strong survive, despite the odds, and I think that is the real message of his statement.
No government, person place or thing should have that much power over how someone feels dignified. I understand how a system can attempt to belittle, downgrade, even demoralize another so called “inferior” but a man is as he thinketh. If he believes he has no dignity then no one can give it to him or take it away. He is simply unaware of who he is and therefore is susceptible to viewing himself through the lens of his oppressor.
I have always said that LGBT folks who want to get married should just do that without having to beg to be recognized by the government. There are various ways that it can be done, through contracts, notarized documents and various other steps that can be taken. There were and are always someone who will marry you, and if you can’t find that someone, marry yourself. There is always a way to get around it.
Societies have socialized and institutionalized marriage around the world. They see marriage as a communal act between those who marry and the community they belong to. Over time it has become a system of barter, protocols, laws, restrictions, politics and bellicose religious indictments. It seldom becomes a personal matter between persons but rather a socio-economic and political statement about what and who you are. Because human beings are socialized into believing they must be accepted by their communities, families, churches and other religious institutions, they go through the rituals that in some instances have nothing at all to do with how they feel on the inside. Marriages have gone from being partnerships and dedication to having property and the value, worth and status that comes with it. As a result, people want to be “acknowledge”. And in this case, do to the social construct of this Nation, the USA, they felt the need to make it to the Supreme Court with their case.
Actually, marriage is really an arbitrary situation that is deemed to exist between the people who are “married” and not necessarily something that has to be sanctioned by others. What I mean is that there are so many kinds of partnerships that have contributed to the making of families around the world. In fact, polygamy is a more natural construct than the ownership of another that happens in Western style marriages. The spiritual connection that folks feel towards one another is often shrouded in the external, “how to be” in a relationship that often what is truly happening between the souls of individuals gets lost because of the pressures of society. Some people never marry and live together as a devoted couple for years and years, helping and supporting and loving and even baring children together. Are their unions any more worthy than the ones that are “sanctioned” by the larger community? Just think, with all this marriage equality business folks can run out and spend more money on getting married when they could have very well saved that money to build a business together. And then after all that money is spent to please the onlookers, some of these self same marriages end in divorce. Why? Because they were sanctioned or was it because the true connection on the Soul level was “NOT” made and therefore there was no “glue-on” to hold it together to stand the test of time.
Supreme Court Justice Thomas may very well be married to a European woman and some may say that there was a time where he could not have been legally married to her, but does that or did that determine his love or devotion to her??? Obviously not. And I doubt if her being married to him diminished her dignity. Though I am guessing here, it still stands to reason that no one can tell you who you can love or not love, marry or not marry, or at least no one should have that kind of power over your life, and if they do, to me, there is something very wrong with this picture.
All too often people rely upon someone or something to acknowledge their worth and “dignity” instead of knowing who they are and that it matters not, who else knows it. I think the movie “The Green Mile” shows how a man can remained dignified, no matter how he is treated. He knew who he was and what powers he had, he sincerely knew where his heart was and that he was innocent, but he even went to the electric chair with dignity. I believe that is what Judge Thomas is saying. He may not realize it himself but he said it and it makes sense to me.
|The Green Mile
Clarence Thomas is one of the most conservative and one of the most controversial justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia gets a lot of attention, in part because his dissents of late have been hyperbolic and bombastic, but Justice Thomas rarely gets much attention.
He deserves a lot more, and not in a good way.
The 67-year old Georgia-born jurist who replaced – of all people, Thurgood Marshall – on the bench, offered a stunning statement in his dissent of the same-sex marriage case.
“Perhaps recognizing that these cases do not actually involve liberty as it has been understood, the majority goes to great lengths to assert that its decision will advance the ‘dignity’ of same-sex couples,” Justice Thomas writes. “The flaw in that reasoning, of course, is that the Constitution contains no ‘dignity’ Clause, and even if it did, the government would be incapable of bestowing dignity.”
“Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that ‘all men are created equal’ and ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this Nation was built.”
OK, you’re probably thinking, this is nuts, and insensitive, but wait, there’s more.
“The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.”
Let’s do that again.
“Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved.”
Is he serious?
Being property, being owned by another person, with absolutely no rights, subjected to violence and rape and starvation and whipping and all sorts of other indignities does not cause one to lose their dignity nor their humanity?
Speaking personally, I have never been a slave, nor confined in an internment camp, but I can imagine how horrific that was.
How is it possible that Justice Thomas cannot?
And, as a gay man who married two years ago, almost to this day, I can without qualification state that my personal dignity was greatly affected – positively – upon becoming a legally married man.
The exact moment my husband and I were pronounced married I was a changed person. My world changed, and yes, it had to do with legal acceptance and validation, and dignity.
Something Justice Thomas, sadly, must not know anything about.
Justice Thomas’ dissent is so vile and offensive, he’s actually right now the number two trending topic, right under #LoveWins: