Title has nothing to do with the post, I just liked the line, and so I stole it shamelessly.
Amused has a good post riffing on the trend (I guess?) of children not being invited to weddings. I’m not really interested in that particular question, but I want to highlight it because she brings up two themes that have appeared here before: home ownership and freedom of speech.
Bashing weddings is not unpopular, and I hasten to separate myself from the crowd that always rushes to point out that the money spent on a wedding would be better used towards a downpayment on a home. I actually hate it when people say things like that…
The American obsession with home ownership for its own sake, no matter the cost or individual circumstances, is almost as ridiculous as the obsession with “perfect” weddings.
Agreed. We have spent the last 60 years or so bashing the notion of home ownership into our collective national psyche so entirely that it seems impossible to ponder doing otherwise. It has been the basis for public policy, and is essentially what people think of when they think about “The American Dream”. Home ownership has become, in fact, a measure of self importance. You aren’t really successful until you have a house in the ‘burbs. You can’t really feel good about yourself until you have that well manicured, tiny lawn, and that not so tiny payment. Back in January, I highlighted a quote by Gingrich stating that home ownership “is the greatest achievement” of peoples lives and makes them “feel like they are good solid citizens.” No room for even the possibility that maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt isn’t worth it for the chance to sit in traffic! Of course there’s nothing wrong with home ownership. For some, it works out great. For others, its not for them. That’s all fine. I merely reject the idea that home ownership status should be viewed as some kind of national metric for self worth or merit.
More important than home ownership, though, is the notion which many seem to forget, that freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence-free speech:
It was said repeatedly in the thread I linked that the marrying couple have the right to decide who does or does not attend their wedding. After all, it’s their day, and the guest list is their prerogative. That is, of course, true. However, there is often a confusion in people’s minds between having the right to do something and having the right to receive only innocuous reactions to whatever it is you do simply because you have the “right” to do it.
Amused’s point here was that the marrying couple has every right to ban children from their wedding. Their guests (or not) also have every right to be offended by that ban. It’s simple, and it’s a perfect example of the point I discussed in the link above that speech (and actions) have consequences and just because one has the right to do something doesn’t mean they can do it with impunity. Others may be offended. Maybe they won’t be. They may act on that feeling. They are well within their rights to do so.
Bet you never thought you’d see a question on wedding etiquette lead to a quote from Newt Gingrich and a civics lesson!