At some point Megan McArdle has to get fired. We're accustomed to reading her arguments and thinking, gee, that makes no sense whatsoever – "no sense" as in, her logic is faulty. Apparently she has moved on to writing things that make no sense in the most literal meaning of the term. She is stringing together words that do not belong together to construct confusing sentences that appear to be arranged in no particular order. With "Why Gay Marriage Will Win, and Sexual Freedom Will Lose", we get the rare opportunity to watch a human being completely disintegrate into incomprehensible gibberish right before our eyes. It is not pretty, my friends.

Here but for the grace of god go we all.

In some sense, it doesn't really matter how the Supreme Court rules on the gay marriage case it's hearing today. The culture war is over on this front, and gay marriage has won. Even if it loses at the Supreme Court this term, it will win in the legislatures . . . because it is already winning in popular opinion. Few people much under the age of sixty see a compelling reason that straights should marry and gays should not. For that matter, my Republican grandfather is rumored to have said, at the age of 86, "I think gays should marry! We'll see how much they like it, though."

Hmm. This is remarkably sane. It's what we would expect from someone who calls herself a "libertarian conservative" and it appears to grasp reality – namely that the tide has turned and the legalization of SSM is imminent.

At this point, it's just a matter of time. In some sense, the sexual revolution is over . . . and the forces of bourgeois repression have won.


That's right, I said it: this is a landmark victory for the forces of staid, bourgeois sexual morality. Once gays can marry, they'll be expected to marry. And to buy sensible, boring cars that are good for car seats.

Welp, given that this is only "expected" of straight people who think it's 1950 – not a huge share of the population – I hardly see why it would be expected of The Gays.

I believe we're witnessing the high water mark for "People should be able to do whatever they want, and it's none of my business." You thought the fifties were conformist? Wait until all those fabulous "confirmed bachelors" and maiden schoolteachers are expected to ditch their cute little one-bedrooms and join the rest of America in whining about crab grass, HOA restrictions, and the outrageous fees that schools want to charge for overnight soccer trips.

I believe we're witnessing a bad writer vomiting words and writing a column in one take before submitting it without proofreading.

Three questions. 1) What in the hell are you talking about? 2) "Expected" by whom? 3) No seriously I will give you one American dollar to tell me what you're talking about.

Is this, like, a cry for help? McMegan is trapped in this nightmarishly banal life and she thought everyone else must be too, but then she realized that a lot of us don't do any of that and now she wants us to rescue her?

I know, it feels like we're riding an exciting wave away from the moral dark ages and into the bright, judgement free future. But moral history is not a long road down which we're all marching; it's more like a track. Maybe you change lanes a bit, but you generally end up back where you started. Sometimes you're on the licentious, "anything goes" portion near the bleachers, and sometimes you're on the straight-and-narrow prudish bit in front of the press box. Most of the time you're in between. But you're still going in circles. Victorian morality was an overreaction to the rather freewheeling period which proceeded it, which was itself an overreaction to Oliver Cromwell's puritanism. (Cromwell actually did declare a War on Christmas, which he deemed to be sensuous paganism.)

That track metaphor is stretched so awkwardly that it may be walking funny for the rest of its life. This is the essence of McMegan's shtick; her expensive upbringing taught her how to make the Right highbrow references, which make her appear intelligent (particularly to dumb people or anyone easily impressed by modestly arcane historical references). This is intended to disguise the fact that what she is saying is incredibly stupid. It doesn't work.

We've been moving away from the Victorian view of marriage for a long time, which means that we're probably due to circle back around the prudish front that drove Charles Dickens to lie when he left his wife for another woman.

Nope. It does not mean that at all. Not even a little.

The 1970s were an open revolt against the idea of the dutiful pair bond, in favor of a life of perpetual infatuation. The elites led the way–and now they're leading it back. Compare Newt Gingrich or John McCain to the new generation of Republican hopefuls. Jindal, Ryan, Christie, Rubio . . . all of them are married to their first wives. Jindal met his wife in high school, Christie in college. By their age, McCain was preparing for his first divorce, and Gingrich was just a few years from his second.

Oh, give the younger guys some time before we start applauding their commitment to dutiful betrothal. I'm sure more than a few of them will be trading up for Calista Gingrich types before too long.

Meanwhile, it's becoming increasingly impossible to ignore the disastrous collapse of marriage outside the elite.


I thought gays were going to be expected/pressured to marry. But…now…you're saying that marriage is less popular as an institution than ever before? So…why exactly…will they be pressured to re-enact Leave it To Beaver like the article just stated, like, three paragraphs ago?

If any readers out there can concoct an answer to that question please share it in the comments and be sure to let Megan know as well.

It turns out that there aren't a diverse array of good ways to raise a child, as the progressive academics of the 1970s had suggested. Or at least, if there are, they don't include having children with an array of men you're not willing to marry, and who will subsequently drift in and out of your life. And that, in post-sexual revolution America, is increasingly the norm in many areas.

mmhmm. mmhmm.


Yes, I see.


So…this would be an argument in favor of marriage as opposed to other ways to raise a child, yes?

Even as we're understanding it, we're losing the reasons to be suspicious of the old marital norms. When traditional marriage, with its expectations of monogamy and longevity, no longer means excluding gays, expect it to get more popular among affluent urbanites.

Seriously, is any of this making sense to anyone out there? This is like a rudderless ship careening from one unrelated idea to another. Is she in favor of gay marriage? Is she against it? Does she think marriage is a positive thing? A negative one? Irrelevant? Does she think anything at all, or is she just barfing out her contractually obligated word count for the week?

To be sure, it's already popular–affluent urbanites are now quite conservative in their personal marital habits. They've just been reluctant to shame those who don't follow suit. But with marriage freed from the culture-war baggage, we now have an opening for change. Think it can't happen? Consider the cigarette. It was shocking for a woman to smoke on in public in 1880, nearly mandatory in 1940, and increasingly shocking in 2013 (for either gender). I wouldn't be surprised to see out-of-wedlock childbearing follow a similar course.

The neo-Victorian morality will protect who you want to marry–male or female, or maybe even something in between. But the wider open marriage is, the less necessary it becomes to defend the right to carefree sex–or children–outside of marriage. One can imagine a Republican politician fifty years hence ruining his career when he throws over his husband and children for a younger man.

Ah, yes. Affluent urbanites are good examples of people who respect the institution of marriage. They're quite conservative about it, as evidenced by the analysis and survey data published in recent issues of Science and the American Journal of Sociology.


If I had to guess, I'd also put late marriage on the endangered list. I married at 37 myself, so I'm not judging, here. But if we want childbearing to take place inside marriage (and I think we do), then the average age of first marriage can't get higher; it probably shouldn't even stay so high. As that average age rises, you get two unwanted phenomenon on the tails of the distribution: babies born to unmarried parents at the low end, and couples who want children but can't have them on the high side. So the current upper-middle-class tendency to push marriage later and later while people finish their educations and get settled doesn't seem very stable to me–even before we consider the difficulty of finding a mate to match your settled life, which Keith Humphreys has dubbed The Problem of Grandma's Lamp.

About ten years ago I was on the phone with an older gentleman – a client of my then-employer – as he began to suffer a stroke. He began to slur words and say things that were comprehensible but made no sense. Immediately I knew something was wrong. I was glad to be on the phone with him so I could contact an ambulance. Luckily, he would go on to recover.

It rattled me. It was a scary moment.

This paragraph is a pretty good representation of what he sounded like.

Of course, predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, Megan McArdle: Professional Writer. She gets paid to write this, people. She makes more money than you or I, too. Most of us would recognize her job and her lifestyle as something out of our dreams – get paid a lot to work very little and hobnob with famous and important people.

To write things like this.

Predictions are hard. Especially about the future.

There is no god.

Nonetheless, here is mine: whatever the Supreme Court decides, gay marriage will soon be legal throughout the land. But this will not mean that we drive ever onwards towards greater sexual freedom–rather, it will mean quite the reverse. The sexual revolution is over. And the revolutionaries lost.

The way this sounds, I imagine her hitting "send" to her editor, turning slowly away from the desk in the well-appointed office of her opulent Georgetown home, and looking wistfully out a window for a moment before jamming a Cato Institute letter opener into her abdomen to begin the ritual of seppuku.

She seems like a terrible person, but I'm worried about her well-being nonetheless. Someone should give her a call. Check on her. Otherwise we might have to wait a week until the neighbors notice a funny smell coming from the ol' Suderman mansion.