Tiny Violins

Some of the responses to yesterday’s post as well as some extra reading has me back at the keyboard again to share something thoughts about this rapidly changing situation in Indiana.  I want to focus on one issue in particular: the demand by social conservatives to push for tolerance . So here goes.

Let me be clear: I am arguing for civility and love of enemy here, but I am not blind to the fact that social conservatives have never been accomodating to gay and lesbians.  If you read blog posts, like the this one from Rod Dreher, you would think that they had never done anything wrong.  They were just sitting around minding their own business when WHAM! those bad pro-ssm folks came and started taking away their rights. As Jacob Levy notes, the general public is having a hard time hearing the social conservative’s tiny violins right now:

…as I’ve said before, the newfound desire for opponents of same-sex marriage to defend pluralism and compromise rings very hollow.

The anti-same-sex-marriage movement during its ascendancy in the 1990s and 2000s was viciously and hatefully maximalist. Imagine the different history of America if conservatives in the late 1990s had energetically supported civil unions provided that they not use the word “marriage,” instead of pursuing the most aggressive and restrictionist DOMAs they could get away with in each context, such that where conservative majorities were strongest even ordinary contractual rights that might seem too much like marriage were prohibited, instead of mobilizing boycotts of firms that offered same-sex couples employment benefits! As it is, their defense of private sector liberty and the pluralism it makes possible is many days late and many dollars short. It kicked in only when, starting in the mid-2000s, the political tide turned.

That shouldn’t change our view of the right outcome; some particular cake baker shouldn’t lose his religious liberty because the movement that’s defending him now makes hypocritical arguments. But it does mean that the violin I hear playing when conservatives complain about the supposedly totalizing and compromise-rejecting agenda of same-sex-marriage supporters is very very small indeed.

So, I’m not ignoring that fact and it needs to be said outloud to our social conservative sisters and brothers. In my case, my desire for civility is not because they deserve it, but because I don’t want to act like they have to people like myself.

Beyond the social right claiming victimhood, there are some issues that really do need to be addressed. Ross Douthat shared in a post yesterday where there might be some need for some clarification of what is okay and is an extention of someone’s faith and what is out of bounds.  Douthat’s lists includes the following:

  • “Should religious colleges whose rules or honor codes or covenants explicitly ask students and/or teachers to refrain from sex outside of heterosexual wedlock eventually lose their accreditation unless they change the policy to accommodate gay relationships? At the very least, should they lose their tax-exempt status, as Bob Jones University did over its ban on interracial dating?”

 

  • “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions? Was Mozilla correct in its handling of the Brendan Eich case? Is California correct to forbid its judges from participating in the Boy Scouts? What are the implications for other institutions? To return to the academic example: Should Princeton find a way to strip Robert George of his tenure over his public stances and activities? Would a public university be justified in denying tenure to a Orthodox Jewish religious studies professor who had stated support for Orthodox Judaism’s views on marriage?”

This goes beyond the “baker-florist-photographer” issue.  At this point, we don’t know where that line is.  This means a lot of discussion to hammer out a new agreement.

This leads to a final thought: Why did the Legislature and Governor decide to craft legislation without gay and lesbian voices?  Did they really think such a law would stand when we all know it was passed because of the changes in opinion?  The federal RFRA was passed with bipartisan votes, but the reason it did is because it wasn’t aimed at a certain population.

There are legit issues concerning religious liberty.  They need to be discussed.  But such discussions need to have everyone at the table.  If gays and lesbians are excluded from this, well we will know that social conservatives still see us more as part of the problem and less of the solution.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
TwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrintFriendlyMore options

180 thoughts on “Tiny Violins

  1. Excellent follow up, Dennis. Very thoughtful, insightful, and fair.

    For obvious reasons, I would add reproductive rights to Douthat’s list of things to ponder; I have no doubt that this legislation will be used to limit access to reproductive health care. (Rural areas, particularly, Plan B. specifically.)

    I’m particularly glad you focused on employment issues. In its expression of religious freedom, can a for-profit business such as Hobby Lobby refuse to hire people who aren’t congregants or fellow-believers, willing to consider their work part of their ‘mission?’

    But this deserves real emphasis:

    Why did the Legislature and Governor decide to craft legislation without gay and lesbian voices? Did they really think such a law would stand when we all know it was passed because of the changes in opinion? The federal RFRA was passed with bipartisan votes, but the reason it did is because it wasn’t aimed at a certain population.

    It’s just like the congressional hearing on contraception where now women were invited to speak. I think it’s vitally important that we begin demanding legislators talk to the people they’re crafting laws about, and hear their concerns. They too often get to do this at a distance, and never see the real people they’re regulating. This is a very bad social norm.

    Report

  2. “Why did the Legislature and Governor decide to craft legislation without gay and lesbian voices?”

    Aren’t you being a little disingenuous here? Down here in Georgia on a similar bill, a Republican committee member proposed an amendment that would forbid claims of religious liberty from being used to avoid state and local nondiscrimination protections. The sponsor of the bill opposed it, because “That amendment would completely undercut the purpose of the bill.”

    They didn’t include gay and lesbian voices because the whole point was to exclude gays and lesbians. Their claiming otherwise now that there is substantial backlash should not be taken seriously.

    Report

    • gingergene,

      I remembered that quote while I was reading Dennis’ first post but couldn’t place it. So thanks for the linky. I thought McKoon’s other comments were interesting as well. For example this one!

      If the intention [of the bill] is to provide every citizen in this state a strict scrutiny of their ‘free exercise’ claim, …

      One thing that struck me is that he basically admits that the practical effect of the bill will permit otherwise unlawful (at the municipal level, say) discrimination of gays (or others of course), but argues that that’s what it’s intended to do!! Course, his argument for permitting that effect is to arrive at fine-grained judicially determined interpretations regarding the extent of religious liberties.

      The other thing is his weak-sauce conditional. I mean, he wrote the damn thing so he should know what the intention of the bill actually is – whether it’s to allow for court-based challenges to otherwise illegal actions or to allow discrimination on religious grounds.

      Report

  3. In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions?
    Traditional is doing some darn heavy lifting there. Does he mean will our elite social institutions frown on divorces? Or tsk-tsk those hedonistic interracial marriages?

    Those were traditional within living memory. Are those the views he’s worried about?

    Nope, just gays. That view. He’s okay with jettisoning those against second marriages or against interracial couples, apparently those weren’t firm traditions.

    Of course, none of that was what he really meant. What he means there is “Is there room for contemporary conservative Christianity in our elite institutions”? (Not Christianity or Judaism or Islam, but a specific strain of it). Honestly? Probably not for this specific aspect of it, at least much longer. Society is turning against it — as seen in the liberal and moderate congregations of those very same faiths. But he shouldn’t worry, because in a few decades members of that conservative strain will view the anti-gay marriage folks as bigots, and be kvetching about some NEW issue.

    In the end, though, what I really hear underneath all of this is a specific complaint: “It’s not fair think I’m a bigot for what I believe”. It’s a specific demand that we — society — not judge the judgmental. Almost as if they believe “religious belief” is a get-out-of-jail card for consequences.

    You can believe what you want. That’s religious freedom, in a nutshell. People are also free to have their opinions about your beliefs, including negative opinions. There ain’t no legislating that away and I have zero sympathy. Strangely, the folks most eager to paint themselves martyrs for their faith seem to be the loudest whiners that people might have a bad opinion of their beliefs.

    Report

    • I think I agree with this, for the following logic:

      Doing something because of your religious traditions demand it does not mean that those things are not discriminatory. I’d be happier if people who have strong religious beliefs against SSM or reproductive rights said, “Because of my religious beliefs, I reserve the right to discriminate against some people who’s (legal) actions offend my beliefs.”

      Then, the men who run the North African markets around here could refuse to do business with me honorably while my husband’s not with me comfortably. The dance we do now is silly.

      Report

    • Good comment Morat. I think you’re right about this. I mean, the question itself is so absurd given the context that it sorta requires some fiddling to get his argument right.

      Report

  4. This has been a really informative and even-handed series of posts, I very much envy your ability to look for light and not heat.

    So it might be my liberal blinders, but I think the answers to Douthat’s questions are fairly self-evident. In general, he’s asking if our culture should/will treat religiously-motivated views on homosexuality the same way we treat religiously-motivated views on race and interracial marriage. And it seem pretty clear that the former will follow the trajectory of the latter: as older generations die out, more of society will see such views as offensive, and eventually they will be completely marginalized from public life. It might happen rapidly or gradually, but there’s no evidence of back-sliding: younger generations are more likely to support gay rights, and (unlike, say, party affiliation) that support increases over time within a given generation ( http://www.pewforum.org/2014/09/24/graphics-slideshow-changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/ ). If we use marriage as a barometer, the country as a whole is about two-decades behind on sexual orientation relative to race ( http://www.gallup.com/poll/163697/approve-marriage-blacks-whites.aspx ). So that should give Douthat both a position and a direction, all that’s missing is the velocity. Unless he can demonstrate a major conceptual difference between the two, why wouldn’t one follow the other?

    Report

  5. Dennis, your essay is thoughtful and compassionate, as was your earlier one.

    However, I’ve not seen any indication that conservative Christians are interested in any conversation with LGBT folks. Let’s look at Douthat’s essay you link to. Douthat may be interested in a conversation, but I get no sense he’s interested in hearing from LGBT people. Rather, he speaks of a conversation with “liberals” to negotiate the terms of surrender in a “war”. I can’t quite shake the feeling that this conversation isn’t meant to include LGBT people at all, just conservative Christians and newly-ascendent liberals.

    He gives no indication that discrimination has any kind of negative impact on LGBT people. He expresses no sympathy or empathy for LGBT victims of harassment, discrimination, or violence. Everything I’ve seen written by him that addresses LGBT issues is remarkably devoid of any sense of LGBT *people*.

    The piece he cites by Garrett Epps is a call to understand that discrimination, no matter the rationale or sincerity of the actors, has important and real impacts on those it is directed toward. At the end of his essay, Epps says:

    “Being required to serve those we dislike is a painful price to pay for the privilege of running a business; but the pain exclusion inflicts on its victims, and on society, are far worse than the discomfort the faithful may suffer at having to open their businesses to all.”

    Douthat doesn’t respond to that. I don’t think he’s interested in the lives of LGBT people. I suspect he’s speaking only to straight people.

    Report

    • In fairness to Douthat he straight up has said in the recent past that Religious Conservatives have behaved abohorrently towards gays and that what they’re facing now is in no way comparable.

      Report

      • That actually kind of sounds like it supports what Zane is saying:

        Religious conservatives have acted toward LGBT people in such and such a fashion and now they are experiencing the (questionable) hardship of having to act toward them differently. Nowhere are the experiences of LGBT people considered – only the propriety of acts toward them, and the experience of those who had so acted.

        Report

  6. Up front: I live in a country where if you were a gay couple who wanted to get married, you could be celebrating your 11th wedding anniversary this year. Sun still comes up every morning, the moon is out there (most) nights, and the sky is still blue. No fire and brimstone, no sulphur, no hellish smoke.

    So whenever I read about this incredibly sensitive Christian baker, it almost sends me into a fit of the giggles. Christianity is measured like flour and poured out like milk now? Do Americans crack the eggs of dogma whenever there’s a gay wedding in the offing? Baking is now a rite of Christian worship?

    I really wonder if politicians who get stampeded into these kind of bills are simply being panicked by a relative handful of “Christians” with a very limited grasp of the Bible. Watching Governor Pence do the reverse dog-paddle for the past two days has been a source of comedy but also makes me think that it comes as a genuine shock that there are other points of view.

    Which finally brings me to my point: there are lots of people in Indiana who support ssm so they should be on their phones and sending emails with clear instructions to their elected reps that they are to stop – you should pardon the expression – dicking around with this kind of nonsense. It’s been the dignity of a legislative body to pass this kind of nonsense. That message needs to get out. Moderate opinion has been passive for far too long on issues like this. Personally I refuse to cede the word “Christian” to these busybody homophobes.

    As for Dreher: he’s as wound up about gay sex as Dan Savage but doesn’t have near as much fun with it.

    Report


    • I really wonder if politicians who get stampeded into these kind of bills are simply being panicked by a relative handful of “Christians” with a very limited grasp of the Bible

      Amen. The ‘vocal asshat’ population.

      Watching Governor Pence do the reverse dog-paddle for the past two days has been a source of comedy but also makes me think that it comes as a genuine shock that there are other points of view.

      I think the genuine shock isn’t so much that other points of view exist. They know gay people exist, but they’re assuming that gay people are not large enough to make a difference. They’re probably correct there

      But what they have apparently failed to notice is that it’s not just gay people who have problems with discrimination against gay people.

      Report

    • “I really wonder if politicians who get stampeded into these kind of bills are simply being panicked by a relative handful of “Christians” with a very limited grasp of the Bible.”

      These people compose a major chunk of the GOP primary base, and are quite willing and capable of knocking out politicians who defy them on this.

      Report

  7. “In my case, my desire for civility is not because they deserve it, but because I don’t want to act like they have to people like myself.”

    This is an excellent point, but until you start messing with their families and trying to discriminate against them economically, you’re “not acting like they have.” So don’t feel bad.

    I appreciate the calls for magnanimity, but there should be some acknowledgement that this issue won’t be resolved without feelings being hurt. The tiny violins never stop playing for someone.

    Report

    • I’m with ya there James Pearce. It’s one thing to advocate civil rhetoric. Or even to remind pro-SSM folks to not gloat over certain important victories. But it seems to me an entirely other thing to advocate accommodation of views which we feel (or at least I feel) are fundamentally repugnant. Like, for example, trying to legalize discrimination against gays. Not feelin it, myself.

      Report

      • I can’t agree. If people think they’re being forced into action which imperil there immortal soul, that’s a big deal. There’s nothing in the free exercise clause that says “unless a reasonable man would say that sounds really dumb.”

        Report

      • By selling a cake to gay people? They’re not being forced to make a gay cake, or engage in a homosexualist ritual conveying gayness on the cake. They’re just making a f****** cake!

        Report

      • To them, they’re participating in a same-sex marriage, by baking a cake specifically for that marriage. (I’d be more skeptical if they had a dozen cakes on display and asked everyone who wanted to buy one “It’s not for a gay wedding, is it?”) As I said, it doesn’t really matter if you or I think it’s dumb.

        Report

      • So long as there’s cherry, I’m happy with Big Gay Rainbow Super Sherbert.

        I’ll ask my sweetie if he wants to get married again. Been about 34 years since we last did that, and we never did take a honeymoon.

        Report

      • “If people think they’re being forced into action which imperil there immortal soul, that’s a big deal.”

        Eh. It’s hard for me to take that kind of thing seriously. Especially if the “being forced into action” part means “running a discrimination-free bakery.”

        And imperils their immortal souls? By whose account? I thought it was just part of our nation’s long tradition of peaceful political protest, refusing to bake a cake like the student refuses to get off the sidewalk, but now I must consider the actual theological implications of what baking the wrong cake might do to the Christian soul?

        Anyone can believe what they want, and I happen to believe all that is bunk. Who wins?

        There must be a secular standard that holds despite what anyone believes. In the US, it now tilts towards social equality and economic growth. That’s going to conflict with the reluctant Christian baker’s agenda no matter what.

        Report

      • To them, they’re participating in a same-sex marriage, by baking a cake specifically for that marriage
        If they can’t make a cake for anyone who walks through the door with the money to buy one, they should do something else with their lives.

        That’s their real choice — either abide by non-discrimination laws when it comes to selling OR choose a different career.

        As I said earlier — it’s been my experience that the more fundamentalist and conservative a Christian, the more they love to talk about suffering for their faith. (To the point where you’d think America’s majority religion was “Hating Christians”). Except, it appears, they don’t want to actually suffer for their faith.

        Martyrdom is all well and good until you’re forced to do something you don’t want.

        If “persecution” in America is being forced to sell cakes to anyone who has the cash to buy, I’m pretty sure freedom of religion is doing QUITE well.

        Report

      • “And that doesn’t matter at all.”

        That’s where you’re wrong, Mike. If my beliefs don’t matter, then the “religious freedom” folks’ beliefs don’t matter.

        And they’re kind of saying that their beliefs are the only thing that matters.

        Report

      • There are obvious problems with making a certain set of beliefs totally off-limits for reasoned debate. Unfortunately, since there’s no rational way to distinguish which religious principles are reasonable and which ones are silly, we pretty much have to make them all off-limits for reasoned debate. Either that, or we need to be willing to say to every religious person, “Your beliefs are nonsense and we’re not going to listen to them at all when we’re making policy.” That may be more of a possibility now than it was when the Constitution was written, but it’s still not really much of a possibility. As long as you’re talking about deep, sincerely held beliefs that define a person’s whole point of view, you pretty much have to show them at least some respect if you don’t want a civil war on your hands.

        Report

      • I think you misunderstand. In a society of competing beliefs, all of which are “respected,” there must be a secular standard, ie the law, which reigns supreme despite everyone’s individual beliefs.

        The Religious freedom movement disagrees. They want their beliefs to reign supreme, primary to the law. It’s not just because they want their beliefs to be respected. It’s because they want their beliefs respected above everything else.

        Report

      • Sure, but that law comes from something that at least resembles a consensus. In order to reach that consensus, everybody brings their own philosophical priors into play. And even then, the core set of rules that trump religious rules needs to stay small enough that you can get buy-in from most religious people. Our core rule was roughly, “I won’t make rules that stomp on your religion and you don’t get to make rules that stomp on mine,” and details of that agreement are still being worked out.

        Obviously, we can’t defer to private religious beliefs on everything. Your deity’s command that you kidnap and sacrifice your neighbor’s children is probably a non-starter. But the right to opt out of making a cake? I could see the argument.

        Anyway, my point is that if we want to argue that this is one of those cases where we get to use the law to trump religious practice, I don’t think that the argument to be made is, “This particular belief of yours is ridiculous.” Of course it is. All religious beliefs are ridiculous to some degree (except yours, dear reader!). We don’t make the decision to trump religious practice based on ridiculous/not ridiculous. The argument that we have to make is that there’s a more compelling need on the other side of the scale. And even then, we should probably be careful because we burn a little bit of political capital and neighborly goodwill every time we make and win that argument.

        As an atheist of the Dawkins-ish variety, I’m totally on board with the, “These beliefs are silly and shouldn’t be deferred to as a matter of law,” philosophical position. But the current trend of increasingly tolerant and secular rule is a good one, and I worry about the consequences of overplaying our hand over culture war issues that don’t have much practical effect.

        Report

      • how does this grab you?

        If you are against segregation and against racial separation, then you are against God Almighty because He made racial separation in order to preserve the race through whom He could send the Messiah and through whom He could send the Bible. God is the author of segregation. God is the author of Jewish separation and Gentile separation and Japanese separation. God made of one blood all nations, but He also drew the boundary lines between races. – Bob Jones, Easter Sunday Sermon Is Segregation Scriptural?, 1960, distributed as a pamphlet at Bob Jones University until they lost their tax-exempt status in 1983 due to Supreme Court ruling.

        Report

      • “that law comes from something that at least resembles a consensus.”

        Agreed. The consensus now is social equality and economic freedom.

        “my point is that if we want to argue that this is one of those cases where we get to use the law to trump religious practice, I don’t think that the argument to be made is, “This particular belief of yours is ridiculous.””

        I would like to clarify that I wasn’t arguing that the law should trump their beliefs because they are ridiculous. I believe those beliefs are ridiculous, yes, that’s true.

        But it’s also true that putting it in such stark and dire terms as “imperil your immortal soul” does not actually add any gravity to the argument. I take it for granted that these guys sincerely believe the ridiculous thing they believe, and stick to what I believe, which is just as valid if we’re talking about “ridiculous things” and would be no more convincing even if I used strong verbs and colorful adjectives.

        If you want to boil it down, my argument is that our society is (now more than ever) built on social equality and economic freedom, and their religious beliefs are not. That’s the trump.

        Report

  8. Serious question: let’s say this legislation passes as is, just for the sake of argument, and there’s a lawsuit right out of the gate and it goes to court. Mr. Christian Baker gets up on the stand and says it’s a violation of his religious freedom to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding.

    What happens then?

    Does Mr. CB get challenged on his understanding of his own religion? Do experts get called who argue for alternative interpretations of various Bible verses? What if Mr. CB doesn’t understand the doctrine as well as he thinks he does? What if the defense comes back with “Render unto Caesar etc.”? Do anti-ssm-ers really want secular courts to rule on religious interpretation? Or have representatives from other churches debating the issue on the witness stand?

    Whenever Dreher rants about the whole RL thing, I don’t quite get how it’s supposed to actually work. Apparently Mr. CB simply declares something is against his religious freedom and it acts like a deflector shield (see Star Trek) that repels everything. But surely he’s not the final arbiter of this matter? There’s so much debate about biblical meanings that it would definitely intrude on the court case.

    I’m seriously thinking that after a decade of regular legal reverses the religious freedom types might be regretting they’d started the whole thing.

    Report

    • This is an ongoing discussion I have with Brother . I see no principled reason why this exact scenario could not play out. Brother Mark points out that it never has and that dicta in the Hobby Lobby case suggests that antidiscrimination law will survive a super-Sherbert challenge, so no need to worry. But I still worry.

      Report

      • Maybe I’m just neurotic about this. I think not, but maybe. Maybe Alito’s dictum really is significant and he’ll stick to it. I’m skeptical that when the right set of facts is found that he and his colleagues will.

        Either way, please do read the explainer post Brother Mark points to in his OTC post. Even though it’s at Vox.

        Report

      • I’m with on this one. We won’t know until it goes to court, but I don’t see what Indiana’s law did that Hobby Lobby hasn’t done already. In both cases we have legal logic that leads very easily to permitting discrimination, and a legally inert promise from (some of) the proponents of our brave new RFRA regime that it will do no such thing.

        Report

      • Don Zeko,

        My own humbly offered view of what you wrote is this: in the brave new RFRA regime (should it come to fruition) there won’t be any discrimination of gays for a simple reason: acting on closely held religious beliefs cannot be a form of discrimination.

        They’re trying to codify it. (And legislation written with that intent just cannot be viewed – in my simple mind – as merely symbolic.)

        I’m with Burt as well, going all the way back to his take on the HL case and the resulting worries emerging from super-Sherbert (delicious as it sounds).

        Report

    • Does Mr. CB get challenged on his understanding of his own religion? Do experts get called who argue for alternative interpretations of various Bible verses?

      No Mr. CB does not. There were precedents cited in the Hobby Lobby case that suggested that judges be deferential towards what qualified as sincerely held religious beliefs. I think that may have been one of the things that gave opponents of Hobby Lobby’s arguments fits – while sincerely held religious beliefs equated certain forms of birth control to inducing abortion, the science disputes it.

      Do anti-ssm-ers really want secular courts to rule on religious interpretation?

      So long as judges are deferential, absolutely. Personally, I think poses another kind of constitutional problem under the Establishment Clause, but I’ll leave that alone for the time being.

      Whenever Dreher rants about the whole RL thing, I don’t quite get how it’s supposed to actually work

      When people of Dreher’s ilk had the majority, RL meant using a 50% plus 1 majority to enforce their beliefs. As they are losing that majority (if not lost it at least nationally), they are hiding under the cover of anti-discrimination law. As I’ve said before, I don’t think RFRA claims will successfully trump anti-discrimination law, and it was the discrimination that opponents of SSM used to render gays as second class citizens that will serve as the root of their demise in those kinds of challenges.

      Report

      • First, thank you for asking these very good questions, and and for answering.

        I have a lot of concerns about where the ‘belief’ standards will lead. Personally, my lack of beliefs are an issue here; protection of belief causes some big concerns here; believers can claim state protection for religious beliefs; but I have no recourse for my beliefs because they are not rooted in exercise of religion. It strikes me that there are some equal protection issues here.

        I’m amused at how flimsy the court’s standards are (only an assertion?) or will that be tested and new-fangled, spiritualist modernism will be, like atheism, left out?

        And the whole notion of religious conservatives claiming that 1) we’re a Christian nation while claiming 2) they’re a minority amuses me as evidence of ability to hold ambiguous truths that’s not fully appreciated.

        Report

      • years ago, a friend and I started calling ourselves Pagan Scientists. It’s what I put down on forms that ask my religion.

        I paid him a quarter to use the name. He paid me a quarter. Since that time, I’ve collected about $5.00 (it’s been 30+ years); and I recently heard that he’s collected slightly more, but he lives in a more populated area. So there’s probably about 50 or so Pagan Scientists in the US now.

        Our deeply held beliefs are personal, and mostly have to do with not believing in deities but appreciating humanities dire need to think that somebody’s got a grand plan.

        Report

      • Seconding this, as has been pointed out. The RR has had no problem trying to make their particular beliefs trump others, and has had only the tolerance which they had to have.

        Report

  9. I didn’t comment on the previous thread, so some of my comments will be related to that post too…

    I agree that the optimal MO would be for the pro ssm / liberals to give the rest of society a chance to catch up and reset. That ain’t gonna happen. They’re pushing forward. I think it was less than a month after the multiple state referendums on SSM that Slate had an article on polyarmory. Folks who win a battle tend to want to advance and push the advantage, especially for those who have been hungering for a victory and turn of the tide. I think this referendum is a push back from the other side. I think the lines are hardening and we’ve moving from a bit of a cold war to a hot one.

    How’s that going to play out I’m not sure, but I’ll suggest that there’s the law and then there’s the LAW. And as I’ve said before, “how many divisions does the [insert name of whatever court] have? I’m sure a clever baker or photographer can manage to turn down a gay couple’s request with a reason that isn’t “you’re gay, so no”.

    Yall know my political opinions fairly well, even though some still think I oppose SSM, but I’ll put forth, again, that most of this drama discussed would go away if all the legal / tax / etc. benefits of gov’t licensed marriage went away.

    Report

    • “Yall know my political opinions fairly well, even though some still think I oppose SSM, but I’ll put forth, again, that most of this drama discussed would go away if all the legal / tax / etc. benefits of gov’t licensed marriage went away.”

      Oh agreed, and if we could selectively ignore the laws of gravity we could flap our arms and fly to the moon.

      Report

      • Best response to that I’ve seen yet.

        The “we should just get rid of civil marriage entirely!” is a highly predictable response from some quarters. Laughable, as you just noted, as well.

        Report


      • Yep, it usually comes from the anarchist/libertarian mindset. You know, that mindset that views gov’t intrusion into a personal action unwanted and undesired. But hey, 30 years ago most of society would have reacted to the thought of the embrace of SSM as a pipe dream too.

        Report

      • Proposing a solution that is acceptable to only a small minority of citizens (I’d say, at most, 3%) and massively objectionable to most, is not a serious solution. (Especially since it is not so much a solution as in a ‘let’s just get rid of EVERYTHING and then there’s not a problem, amiright?”)

        It’s idiotic navel gazing. It is, in fact, an ivory tower solution proposed by a group of people who often mock…ivory tower solutions.

        It’s a pointless response. You know it, I know it, the idiots proposing it know it. The civil aspects of marriage are highly useful to people wanting to get married or actually married (which is, you know, a giant majority of Americans), even setting aside the tax code.

        Without it, every married American (which is, you know, most of them) would be forced to hire a lawyer and create a great many contracts, several of which they’d have to carry around on their person, just to sort out their personal lives.

        So again — anyone proposing “let’s abolish the civil side of marriage” is a flipping idiot, because what they just SAID was “let’s make a hundred million Americans have to go find a lawyer and create absolutely identical contracts, file them with the courts, and carry them around on their persons so that — legally — nothing changes for them”.

        Excellent solution, bro.

        Report

      • Yep, and like I said, who’d a thought a few decades ago that the majority of americans would have agreed that gays should get married? Gee, isn’t the gay percentage in america the same percent as the stat you cited? Who’d have thought 10 years ago that we’d have Obama care? Who’d have thought guns wouldn’t have severe restrictions after Sandy Hook?

        Go to sleep content in the structure of the society. Maybe one day you’ll wake up and things will have changed. You no doubt would think they changed for the worse. You might be surprised at how many disagree with you then.

        Report

      • Seriously?

        You’re going to pretend adding gays to marriage is somehow comparable to removing the entire civil side of marriage for the 100+ million married Americans? And that “Hey, stuff changes, look how many surprising things have already happened?” is your rationale?

        Why on earth would they do that? What possible reasons might get even 10% of married Americans to say “You know all those convenient things that happen when you’re married? Name changes, power of attorney, joint property, all that stuff? Let’s get rid of them! Who uses that?”

        You can’t be serious.

        Report

      • The ” get rid of the civil side of marriage” argument is usually raised by people who don’t understand what contracts are or courts or wills or medical decision making entails.

        Report

      • The ” get rid of the civil side of marriage” argument is usually raised by people who don’t understand what contracts are or courts or wills or medical decision making entails.
        It’s “get the government’s hands off my Medicare” by people who generally think they understand how government works.

        Which makes it stupider.

        Because if the government got out of the marriage business, I’d have to see a lawyer tomorrow to handle arranging mine and my wife’s property, various powers of attorney (medical and otherwise), assets (current and future), issues involving custody of our kids — then I’d have to file it with the state. And then keep copies to show to, well, everyone. School districts and banks and doctors and bureaucrats, who’d have to read the bloody things to ensure I actually had what power I claimed.

        All for what?

        There’s no logical path between the civil side of marriage and “get the government out of marriage”. No single step or aggregate step actually IMPROVES my situation as a married adult. (Or as an about to be married adult). The end result is significantly worse — far more expensive and time consuming and a huge hassle to get bare legal necessities handled for a marriage.

        You have to be drinking deep of the ideological kool-aid to consider it a likely outcome.

        I mean, good lord. What problem is that meant to improve? How does it improve it? What about all the things it BREAKS? How do those get fixed?

        “let’s fix gay marriage by getting rid of civil marriage!” is pants-on-head stupid. First off, it just absolutely destroys the entire reason gays want same-sex marriage. (They can already GET the religious stuff. Plenty of churches marry gays). Then, as a topper, it destroys the important,day-to-day stuff for a hundred million straight Americans.

        It doesn’t even fix the original problem! It just blows it up, and everyone else too, and some moron stands there going “Yep, problem solved!” like he’s just cracked fusion.

        Report

      • hit the nail on the head.

        I have several friends, ss-couples, who spent thousands of dollars in legal fees setting up the benefits that come for free with marriage. When our state passed a referendum allowing SSM, most of those folk had a tough time deciding if they should get married, since the contractual rights that come with marriage cost them so dearly.

        For my brother, who lives with AIDS, his partner’s right to make medical decisions is crucial, and one that no number of legal documents would ever assure but marriage seals the deal.

        Report

      • Oh, I’m 100% serious. I’ve been married and know and understand the convenience. I also deal with detailed contracts; I’ve seen some inches thick, where…every….damn….word…is…defined….

        I never said it would be easy. I never said it is likely. My whole point was that no one thought a variety of things were possible in society, and poof, they were. It’s possible. Is it probable? Very unlikely, at least now. And who said I claimed it “fixed” anything. It gets the state out of granting permission for people to marry. What part of: ” that most of this drama discussed would go away if all the legal / tax / etc. benefits of gov’t licensed marriage went away.” was unclear? And it sure would.

        Report

      • For what it’s worth I consider the libertarian copout (my affectionate term for this response) a logically consistant response. It’s a copout because it’s so implausible as to be impossible and thus has no bearing at all on the SSM fight but it is both a fair and very libertarian response.

        Report

      • North,

        I’d happily agree with that. It is an entirely logical and internally consistent libertarian response. I’d never claim otherwise.

        The fact that it’s the very definition of an ivory tower solution is the problem. (It works fine in theory, and then absolutely crumbles in reality. Total non-starter).

        Damon,
        You’re just absolutely refusing to admit the obvious: People find all the ‘civil’ side of marriage stuff to be highly useful. Your solution removes something people really like. Under what circumstances do you see people giving up something they really like, find really useful and of high utility, in favor of…nothing, really.

        Pigs might fly, too. But it’s highly unlikely. Just like hundreds of millions of Americans agreeing to forfeit a highly useful and desirable thing because……I dunno, it might be philosophically convenient every once in awhile?

        Report

      • Methinks that if the so-called libertarian solution were so obviously and unambiguously stupid, you guys wouldn’t have to spend so much energy piling on and insisting that it is a non-starter.

        Report

      • Methinks that if the so-called libertarian solution were so obviously and unambiguously stupid, you guys wouldn’t have to spend so much energy piling on and insisting that it is a non-starter.
        There’s a logical fallacy there, but heck if I can remember it.

        There are young earth creationists out there. Doesn’t mean the earth is 4000 years old, or that the belief thereof is anything but stupid.

        And heck, this isn’t even much of a pile-on. It’s very much a “I can see how your political ideology and governmental philosophy lead you to that possible conclusion, just like Communists came up with some internally consistent conclusions of their own. In real life, however, it’s pretty stupid for the obvious reasons I just listed”.

        None of which Damon addressed. Or anyone with the “get government out of marriage” addresses. He just said “maybe that’ll change one day, because other things have changed!” which is nice and all, but not really responsive or convincing.

        Government’s involved in marriage because government does some darn useful stuff for married people (tax code aside even). Removing government from marriage means removing that useful stuff.

        Can YOU think of a path forward where a hundred million Americans decide to forgo that useful stuff? “Things change” is all well and good, but one pretty concrete reality of life is people generally don’t ditch things they find useful unless they’ve found a better substitute.

        Report

      • Can YOU think of a path forward where a hundred million Americans decide to forgo that useful stuff?

        This is exactly what I mean, to get to where you are you have to start from the assumption that the libertarian position involves forgoing useful stuff.

        No, I do not see a path forward where a hundred million Americans decide to give up marriage as a legal institution. I do, however, see any number of paths forward that would allow the legal institution that presently exists to evolve into something different and perhaps more useful and which does not damn us to waging the eternal culture war.

        Report

      • Methinks that if the so-called libertarian solution were so obviously and unambiguously stupid, you guys wouldn’t have to spend so much energy piling on and insisting that it is a non-starter.

        Yes, there’s nothing that screams “This is a perfectly reasonable position” like a dozen people all pointing out different flaws.

        Report

      • I was feeling a little worried with Kim setting herself up on my side, but now that Mike’s come in with some unfocused snark, I am back to feeling to confident in my position.

        Report

    • “I agree that the optimal MO would be for the pro ssm / liberals to give the rest of society a chance to catch up and reset. That ain’t gonna happen. ”

      What I see again and again and again from the right is the exact same arguments always used against civil rights, once they’ve lost on a particular issue. They back up when they have to, claim that further advances are unfair, and then counterattack.

      Report

  10. “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions?”

    I would really like it if people would keep my Judeo away from their Christianity.

    Tom Cotton seems quite pleased of his Harvard and Harvard Law bona fides. Ted Cruz went to Princeton and then Harvard. Robert P. George is a leading proponent against SSM and he is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton.

    And there is a lot more where that came from. So yes, there are traditional conservatives at our elite institutions. They even get elected to the Senate and on the Judiciary. I am rather tired of this conservative bash but go anyway relationship to the Ivies and other elite institutions. It makes me think that Corey Robin is right and that conservatism is really not about limited government as preserving freedom but as a way of maintaining privilege. The effect of many conservative policies is the maintenance of privilege. The Ivies become perfect bona fides when the right person is connected (Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, John Roberts) but not the wrong person (Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, etc.)

    As for traditional Jews, the majority of American Jews belong to the Reform branch which is also the most liberal branch. The majority of American Jews are still liberal Democrats. Why should it be the Orthodox minority that controls what is Jewish.

    Report

    • It’s also kind of funny that Douthat rolls Islam into the traditional conservative “Judeo-Christian”, isn’t it? Is this a bit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?

      Report

      • “Are you conflating the billions of Muslims around the world with a relative handful of Muslim terrorists in a specific part of the world? Wow.”

        Were you responding to me? I said nothing about terrorism. I was speaking to the irony of someone on the right including Muslims in the “Judeo-Christian” formulation, because the right is often involved in demonizing Muslims. (In particular around the issue of terrorism, of course.) I’m guessing that Douthat added Islam because of a (not unreasonable) perception that most traditional teachings of Islam are not supportive of same-sex relationships. Hence “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” mention.

        Report

      • Zane: yes, I was addressing you. Since J-C-I all worship the same God, I was not sure where you were getting the “enemy” part. FWIW, I think you could have elaborated more in your first post.

        Report

      • I was under the impression that Christians argue that they worship the same deity as religious Jews do but Jews, for whatever reason, politely change the subject when the topic comes up.

        Report

      • I know the fact that I’m commenting about this misunderstanding once more indicates that I’m too defensive about it, so I promise to let it go after this.

        I said: “It’s also kind of funny that Douthat rolls Islam into the traditional conservative “Judeo-Christian”, isn’t it? Is this a bit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?”

        You said: “Are you conflating the billions of Muslims around the world with a relative handful of Muslim terrorists in a specific part of the world? Wow.”

        I had tossed out this snarky, intended-to-be-mildly-amusing statement (over-estimating my wit, as usual) in response to Saul’s far more considered and serious comment. I didn’t think about it too much, but even in retrospect, I’m not sure how I wasn’t clear.

        It can be boiled down to: ‘Douthat altered a standard conservative formulation.’ Then comes the tricky part, I guess, because I attribute a cynical calculation to Douthat that I’m sure he’d deny if asked: ‘…”the enemy of my enemy is my friend”‘. It’s the standard phrasing for that well-known proverb, but even if we ignore that it’s a proverb, the third-person singular possessive pronoun “my” only has a few possible referents in the statement. There’s only “Douthat”, “Islam”, “Judeo-Christian” (because I’m speaking of the term), and I suppose “bit” to choose from. The last three of those referents wouldn’t make sense, so I’d assumed everyone would read “my” as “Douthat’s”.

        At any rate, I’m sorry I was unclear. I promise to try to be less off-the-cuff and more fully explicative in the future.

        Report

      • “Is this a bit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?”

        Or, ‘useful on this issue, and certainly they’ll forget that we hate them and bash them if we smile at them for a minute’.

        Report

      • What the hell are you talking about Kim? How the fuck did this become a conservation about Israel you fanatical, one track mind, hysteric?

        Report

      • *shrugs* Right of Return mean anything to you?
        When you say that Israel needs to be a Jewish State, you are saying that the particular brand of how Israel defines Judaism matters to ya.
        (And, for the record, Israel defines Judaism as more a racist thing than a religious thing, if you want to talk about liberal jews. Because a reform conversion does not count).

        Report

      • This conversation had nothing to do with Israel. You brought it up,

        You are the second person on OT to say that exact same thing to me.

        Report

      • North,
        now, I was being nice. I wasn’t ascribing to Saul the views of the Israeli police, who are quite okay with not interfering with Orthodox Jewish terrorists sexually assaulting, or committing other acts of violence on Jews.
        [If I could actually phrase this as a joke, I might have tried to put it in]

        Report

    • I would really like it if people would keep my Judeo away from their Christianity.

      I’d really like it if they’d keep their Christianity away from my Christianity.

      And, ‘traditionally’, despite the fact almost no one seems aware of this, marriage is not really a sacrament except in Catholism, and even there, it’s a pretty new one. Early Christianity preached chastity, and *secular* marriage was the second best option.

      About 420 or so, it was argued that marriage was a sacrament, but, despite what people think, that doesn’t really have anything to do with a religious ceremony. Think of it as something like prayer, something between people and God, but probably not specifically involving ‘The Church’. You agreed to be married, you consummated the marriage, you were now married in the eyes of God. (Hilariously, the ‘sacrament’ of marriage actually completes with the *act of consummation*. Which really makes me laugh sometimes with how people phrase things.)

      In fact, none of this had anything to do with a church officially *at all* until 1215, when churches became involved because too many people were getting married *in secret*. (To preserve traditional marriage, require people to elope?) And it *still* wasn’t really a ‘religious ceremony’, it was just something that had to be *witnessed* by a priest. The religious ceremony sorta slowly evolved after that point.

      It’s also worth mentioning that Martin Luther and John Calvin both disagreed with the church on the ‘sacrament’ of marriage, asserting that marriage *can’t possibly* be a sacrament. (While also demanding a ceremony, because marriage needed *witnesses*.) And hence marriage is *not* actually a sacrament in most protestant churches, despite many protestants mistakenly thinking it is.

      tl;dr – basically, the entire history of church *weddings* in Christianity is due to the idea of witnesses. That both parties should have to proclaim their marriage in front of everyone. (This is also the reason that marriages, even secular ones, still require two witnesses.) That is the *entire premise* of the ‘traditional’ involvement of churches in marriage, which were, and have always been, *secular* registrations. (With perhaps the involvement of God, but not via a church.)

      So I’m a Christian in favor of traditional Christian marriage: Where the state handles the paperwork, and the couple get married in front of everyone in their community, at a church or some other meeting hall. Sounds good to me.

      [Mike Schilling: I presume that’s what was intended, italics-wise. In the future, be sure you’re using lower-case characters in HTML tags.]

      Report

  11. Would a public university be justified in denying tenure to a Orthodox Jewish religious studies professor who had stated support for Orthodox Judaism’s views on marriage?

    Orthodox Judaism does not, to my knowledge have a position on secular marriage, other than thinking that Jews should get a religious one instead.

    Report

  12. “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions?”

    Why does it matter if there is or isn’t?

    Report

      • I’m not 100% sure I agree with that, . I didn’t choose to be an atheist. I realized that fact about myself.

        If I could have chosen to have remained Catholic, it would have made my relations within my family easier and I’d probably have successfully dated and married a woman I liked very much and met several years before I met the woman who became my wife. This earlier woman was interesting, funny, educated, attractive, and said to our friend who had set us up on a blind date that she found me interesting, funny, educated, attractive. But she was also committed to her Catholic faith and a guy not being a committed Catholic was a deal-breaker for her. Believe you me, I was attracted to this woman enough that could I have chosen to have been Catholic, I’d have done so. I considered going to Mass just to pursue her.

        But it would have been a lie.

        It would have poisoned whatever relationship she and I might have formed. She was right to say “No, I won’t see you again romantically,” and taking her reported assessment of me at face value, it was probably as much of a frustration for her to say as it was for me to hear. But it was the right call — had we pursued things, the foundation of that relationship would have been rotten and it would necessarily have ended badly no matter how strongly she and I might have fallen in love.

        If you want to say that I chose to be an atheist, the “choice” is not the same thing as the “choice” I might make to pick burgers for dinner instead of pizza. It’s rather like the “choice” to be gay: one might choose this or that behavior for any number of reasons good or bad, but the underlying orientation is always and indelibly going to be there. At most, something powerful and unconscious might happen to change it, but a “conversion,” if sincere, isn’t going to be a rational or volitional act.

        Report

      • , from my readings and personal experience I would agree that religiosity is an innate trait to some degree (likely at least 50% genetic). But that has to be understood as a disposition as opposed to a binary determination like skin color.

        But surely your erstwhile love was strongly predisposed to adopt the religious norms of her natal culture rather than any particular faith. Born and raised in the Middle East she would undoubtedly been a devout Muslim and the cultural pressure and indoctrination may well have kept you in line as well (perhaps with some tickle of doubt). If it’s any consolation (as if you really need any given your marriage to the lovely Mrs Likko) she almost certainly would have proven to be socially conservative in other respects as well which also would have been problematic to your relationship.

        The issue of conversion seems more complex to me. Conversion from one faith to another in a religious person would seem to be an almost entirely volitional choice. I would also have to imagine that conversion to atheism would be more likely than the other way round, but I may well be wrong on that point. I say that mainly because my own personal experience was that even as a young person deeply embedded in a religious sub-culture I could never really feel that the religion I was taught was real. It always felt like a just so story that everyone around me had to be just pretending to believe. Given the doctrine of Calvinist pre-destinationism I suffered a fair amount of existential angst worrying that it all actually was true and the reason I felt the way I did was proof that I was destined for hell. Way to fuck with a kid’s head!

        Report

      • Road Scholar kinda said what I was going to say, only better. The mere existence of religious conversion, which is incredibly commonplace, makes it distinctly different from race, hence my objection to Murali’s comment. An African-American who isn’t happy being African-American…well, they don’t really have any options. Whereas a religious person who isn’t happy with their sect or creed has a whole panoply of options arrayed before them.

        Now, I will say that I view the matter of “converting” to atheism distinct from converting between different religions, or different sects within the same religion. By my lights, atheism is a term without any content; as the old saying goes, atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby. And I suspect the *overall* orientation towards theism or atheism might not be entirely chosen, at least not for everyone. But by the same token, I don’t believe atheism is at all relevant to what we’re discussing, which is whether discrimination against particular ideas within religions is analogous or equivalent to racial discrimination.

        Report

      • I appreciate the feedback, and . What my story is intended to illustrate is that one might intensely want to experience faith, to form a religious belief, but be unable to do so. It’s part of who you are rather than something you choose to do. I credit the same sort of lack of conscious volition to others who are not atheists — taking into account in particular ‘s notation that one’s childhood social circumstances are very powerful in how that comes out. But that’s still not volition. You can shop around churches until you find one that fits your belief system and thus “convert” (say from Catholicism to Lutheranism or vice versa) but the belief system remains — for many people, not in directly articulatable form, based as it is on things resident in the unconscious.

        For that reason, I’m comfortable calling religion an “innate characteristic” rather than the product of a choice. Some use the word “immutable” rather than “innate” which as we’ve discussed isn’t quite right, but it also isn’t something that people acting in good faith will have much ability to alter about themselves. As to RFRA, I fear (indeed, I am substantially certain) that some people will invoke religion in bad faith to gain the benefit of this law.

        FTR the young lady who I wished to pursue predicted that while it might take a lot of time and effort, I’d be able to find a woman who was atheist and smart and funny and attractive and she was right because that’s what happend and for twelve years now we’ve been living happily ever after. I hope the lovely Carholic lady found herself a nice Catholic guy and got a happy ending too. I’ve little doubt she quickly found herself with the problem of sifting through a surplus of suitors, and good for her.

        Report

      • Well, I do appreciate your comment and the story that goes with it, and I do actually largely agree with your point. But I also think you’re kind of missing mine. Remember, the original quote that spawned this subthread was: “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions?” So we’re not talking about whether or not people believe in deities or the supernatural (which again, I agree with you, is largely innate). We’re talking about specific doctrines and practices, and which of those you follow is 100% a matter of choice. Whether it’s an easy choice is another matter. But that still makes it qualitatively different from race.

        Report

      • and which of those you follow is 100% a matter of choice

        Given that the best indicator of what religion you follow is “what religion are your parents?”, I’m not entirely certain that this is true. At the very least, I can see how the argument would be that religion is like a recessive or hemizygous gene.

        I can also see the argument that race, like religion, is a construct.

        If there’s something that ought to be called “The Libertarian Fallacy”, I’d say that the assumption that individualism has overcome culture therefore individualism should be expected to overcome culture would be it.

        Culture does a hell of a lot of heavy lifting. My atheism remains downright Protestant.

        Report


      • Remember, the original quote that spawned this subthread was: “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions?” So we’re not talking about whether or not people believe in deities or the supernatural (which again, I agree with you, is largely innate). We’re talking about specific doctrines and practices, and which of those you follow is 100% a matter of choice. Whether it’s an easy choice is another matter. But that still makes it qualitatively different from race.

        Indeed. People get sorta stuck in the culture they grow up in. This includes their religion, at least in general. Changing that is possible, but not likely. But the thing is, cultures *themselves* change, all the time. Including religion, which usually follows along with the culture.

        The ‘traditional Christian view of sexuality’ (I refuse to use incorrect qualifiers) is really no such thing. It’s a goofy-ass re-creation of Victorian morals. In fact, a good deal of our rules are actually just weird ideas of upper-class *English* morality, not ‘Christian’ morality. Before the Victorian era, 40% of first pregnancies started outside of marriage. 40%. *During* that era, it reduced to…20%…then back up to 40%.

        Hell, until 1753, marriage in England was actually two things…the spousals (What we would call a betrothal, a promise to get married) and the marriage, and betrothed people would live together…and could break their betrothal by mutual consent.

        We’re coming up on the 100 years anniversary of the flappers. Who had a lot of casual sex outside of marriage, which outraged older people, who only had *relationship* sex outside of marriage.

        We have an *absurdly* censored view of history. Censored by the people who documented it at the time, and then censored *again* by the Victorians, and then censored yet a third time, until recently, by historians. Throughout history people has, at all times, had massive amounts of sex without being married. And by massive, I mean basically as much as there is now. Sometimes ‘publicly’, sometimes they had to sneak around to do it, but the amount was just as much.

        And how Christianity felt about sex has changed repeatedly over the centuries, based on what culture it existed in and how open they were about *the sex everyone was having*. It’s always officially disliked it, but it’s always officially disliked usury, too, and yet no one seems to care.

        If the culture is okay with unmarried people in serious relationships having sex, so is Christianity. If the culture is okay with people having whatever sex they want, so is Christianity. If the culture isn’t okay with sex at all, Christianity disapproves of sex. (And very little of that has anything to do with how much sex is actually happening.)

        What we’re seeing here is a culture war that really has very little to do with Christianity or the ‘traditional Christian view of sexuality’, except that Christianity is being used a proxy.

        Report

        • If the question is “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions?” then of course that begs the question of what that view of sexuality is. Does it include polygamy? Handmaidens? Trial marriages, instant divorces? “[T]he traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality” is something that I see through the contemporary cultural lens as meaning “Straight sex good (except when it isn’t); gay sex bad.” Probably doesn’t go so far as to specify the missionary position and turning all the lights off first. So if the question were asked “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions?” I would translate that in my mind to be “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality who publicly morally condemns all sexual behaviors other than procreatively-motivated heterosexual marital coitus in our society’s elite level institutions?” and I think the answer to that is that given contemporary cultural mores, an unwillingness to refrain from such condemnation is to be considered a “minus” when considering a person’s qualifications for a publicly prominent or policy-making position. Not a disqualification for most sorts of positions, but something that would require a demonstration of a higher level of qualification elsewhere to offset.

          Somewhere else in the thread, there was a mention of the problem of a judge who was a member of the KKK. A judge in such an organization raises other problems: the organization, by its very nature, excludes certain kinds of people based on these sorts of innate characteristics. When I applied for a judgeship, there was a question about my membership in organizations that refused membership based on race, sex, sexual orientation, and such. The question was in my opinion directly related to my qualifications to become a judge: can I be fair to any and all litigants that come before me? If I’m a member of the KKK, that pretty strongly suggests that I won’t be fair to certain kinds of litigants. If I’m the sort of person who in my private business elected to not sell a cake to a same-sex couple for their wedding, maybe that says something that’s in that same ballpark about my ability to be fair to gay litigants. So that’s at least one kind of public official for whom the answer to what I presume the actual question here to be would be “no.”

          Report

      • “Changing that is possible, but not likely.”

        I can’t quite agree with that. I can’t say for sure about the rest of the world, but at least here in the United States religious conversion is a lot more common than you might think. I have data to back this up, for once: http://www.pewforum.org/2009/04/27/faith-in-flux/

        From the article, in case you don’t have time to read it: “Americans change religious affiliation early and often. In total, about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives. Most people who change their religion leave their childhood faith before age 24, and many of those who change religion do so more than once.”

        Report

      • “I can also see the argument that race, like religion, is a construct.”

        They are absolutely both constructs, but that’s somewhat beside the point. Take the quote from the Pew article in my comment above, and change out “religion/religious affiliation” for race. Notice how it changes from a polling summary to a science-fiction story?

        Report

      • Is it really that sci-fi, though?

        Certainly, the way we conceptualize race and the way we conceptualize religion are different enough that terminology used in the discussion of one can seem outlandish when applied to the other.

        But it’s absolutely normal for many young people to change their racial identities in their youth–the manner in which they contextualize their appearance or their shared racial culture. My mixed race great grandfather effectively decided to become white, even though he was raised as black, for example. Racial and ethnic classifications are inherently fuzzy, and a natural part of the process of growing up is to clarify the fuzz. A light-skinned person with Mexican ancestry might consider themselves White, or Latino, or both. A friend of mine identifies as Mexipino.

        All of this is a combination of uncontrollable characteristics, controllable behavior, and the labels used to describe the characteristics and behavior.

        Report

      • Well, yeah, you can definitely shift racial identity if you have more than one to begin with. But there are some pretty obvious limits. For example, I am so white I’m practically translucent. I couldn’t just decide to start identifying as black. I mean, I guess I could, but nobody would take me seriously.

        Race has a visual component that religion (often) doesn’t. I’m reminded of the Donald Glover bit where he talks about how race comes down to what other people perceive you as. He says, “Look, if you left this show tonight, and Barack Obama was stealing your car, nobody’s gonna shout, ‘Hey, somebody stop that mixed guy!'”

        Report

  13. Jacob Levy also had a good turn of phrase about the line that “Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose”. He noted that this was too easy of a formulation, since the entire problem is discovering whose got the fist and whose got the nose.

    I think about that, when I see a lot of effort trying to find some magic dividing line which makes it easy to accommodate everyone’s moral norms. Most of these end up being some variation of the fist/ nose argument.

    But even the most objective and seemingly universal norm is premised at some point on some irrational moral postulate. So while we try to be as inclusive as possible, eventually there will still be someone who is unable to fully exercise their moral norm.

    With regard to the fear of people being fired for having the “wrong” views. That certainly sounds chilling and Soviet.
    But of course most of us wouldn’t bat an eye at having a schoolteacher fired for being a proud member of NAMBLA. Or seeing a judge fired because he was a member of the KKK.

    The test is going to be how we as a society views opinions which see homosexuality as sinful or perverse- will those opinions be as loathsome as pedophilia, or will they merely be anachronisms like those who frown on divorce?

    Part of this is going to be the behavior of the opponents of SSM themselves. The more hysterical and fring-ish their rhetoric gets, the more difficulty we will have in living and working alongside them.

    Report

    • “Or seeing a judge fired because he was a member of the KKK.”

      Please note that (a) the KKK is a terrorist group, (b) with a judge there’s the matter of fitness for office and (c) the RR has worked to vilify and exclude gay people from public office.

      Report

  14. “In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions?”

    To me, this is like asking, “Is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Scientologist view of psychiatry, or the traditional Raelian view of cosmology, in our society’s elite-level institutions?”

    The obvious answer is no. And the fact that this answer isn’t immediately obvious to everyone involved in this conversation should be a source of embarrassment.

    Report

  15. Dennis, I just remembered a video I watched. Dr. David Gushee is an evangelical Christian theologian, fairly influential, who has recently begun writing and speaking about the need to stand with the LGBT community and to reject historical negative religious teachings about sexual minorities. I can’t recommend his speech enough: http://www.reformationproject.org/gushee-endingcontempt

    Unlike Douthat, David Gushee is (or at least was) a conservative Christian who *wants* to engage with LGBT people, who wants to be in conversation with us. And not just to convert us or to change us. He speaks about the harm that the church has done to LGBT people and also shows a sense of how sexual minorities face some challenges that other oppressed people have not–he talks about how even in the face of oppression, Jews had families to go to, while homophobia and transphobia often robs LGBT people of even that support.

    I wonder if the conversation that Douthat wants needs to happen within the conservative Christian community. Gushee can be a part of that conversation in a way that LGBT can’t, at least today.

    Report

    • Gushee is not a conservative evangelical Christian. He is very much part of the liberal evangelical movement. (He serves on Sojourners Board. http://sojo.net) The term “evangelical” is often misunderstood to mean right-wing, but that’s not at all accurate.

      Report

      • “Gushee is not a conservative evangelical Christian. He is very much part of the liberal evangelical movement. (He serves on Sojourners Board. http://sojo.net) The term “evangelical” is often misunderstood to mean right-wing, but that’s not at all accurate.”

        I tried to capture the flavor of what you say here with my comment. I described him as an “evangelical Christian theologian”, then later mentioned “David Gushee is (or at least was) a conservative Christian…”

        Gushee taught at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1990s and Union University from 1996 until 2007, both described as conservative institutions by Jonathan Merrit at Religion News Service. That report goes on to say:

        “Gushee says the journey to his current position has been a long and winding one. During the first two decades of his academic career, he maintained a traditional view of sexuality and ‘hardly knew a soul who was not heterosexual.'”

        http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/10/24/david-gushee-lgbt-homosexuality-matters/

        I would have been more clear to let the parenthetical statement stand alone. Nevertheless, it does seem that Gushee might have some standing (even if viewed by some as something of an apostate) that LGBT folk do not.

        Report


      • Gushee carries virtually no influence with the religious right and/or its political operatives. He does indeed influence liberal evangelicals, same as Wallis et al.

        My point is this: confusing liberal evangelicals with conservative evangelicals is a mistake. They’re both political, to be sure, but they don’t run in the same crowd despite their common belief in Jeebus. It’s a reality that’s often missed or hard to accept, for various reasons.

        Report

      • “Gushee carries virtually no influence with the religious right and/or its political operatives. He does indeed influence liberal evangelicals, same as Wallis et al.”

        What you say reinforces my argument then. If conservative Christians won’t talk with a fellow heterosexual bible scholar who used to share all the basic precepts with them (and continues to share many), they *certainly* don’t want to hear from LGBT folks. We’re anathema. They’re a closed circle and attempts to compromise on our part will bring about no change on their part.

        Report


      • What you say reinforces my argument then. If conservative Christians won’t talk with a fellow heterosexual bible scholar who used to share all the basic precepts with them (and continues to share many), they *certainly* don’t want to hear from LGBT folks. We’re anathema. They’re a closed circle and attempts to compromise on our part will bring about no change on their part.

        You’re thinking too small.

        Some of them don’t even want to talk to fellow heterosexual bible scholars who *do* share all the basic precepts with them but aren’t strident enough. Or who has a specific liberal political positions *entirely unrelated* to religion.

        Seriously, go read the slacktivist blog on this. Fred Clark (a liberal evangelical) has spent years documenting the insane gate-keeping of ‘evangelicals’, where if you show the slightest bit of disagreement with the Republican party (Even in things that have logically have no religious position, like how fraking is not a good idea. Or things that have been long-held Christian beliefs, like how wars need to be justified.) everything you do is constantly watched for any sort of ‘doctrinal’ problems so they have some reason to get rid of you.

        It is not possible for ‘evangelical Christians’ to engage with LGBT people, because the second they do, ‘evangelical Christianity’ will instantly disavow them. Or, at least, the people that *represent themselves* as the gatekeepers of evangelical Christianity will instantly disavow them. (Despite there now being a rather large community of non-conservative evangelicals, but they’ll never get any media time.)

        Report

  16. The problem with religions that revere martyrdom is that eventually they get into the majority, and then their asshole members go around metaphorically punching people in the face so that they can claim “martyrdom” when they’re punched back.

    Report

      • Did you have something meaningful to add or were you just being silly and provocative?

        Look at the Catholic League, the AFA, and all the other hyper-conservative christian groups. They run around deliberately trying to cause problems for others, and then claim they’re the ones being discriminated against when the pushback comes. It’s silly and offensive to watch them play-act at being “martyrs” when they’re really just assholes.

        Report

    • I think that a good argument can be made that the biggest “mistake” in the history of Christianity was the conversion of Constantine.

      The NT is all about justice for the least of us, and the inevitability of repression by the Powers That Be, since their empire is effectively eternal. Persecution is eternal, on this earth – Rome has been around for generations hence and will be for generations to come.

      After Constantine, Christians and Rome essentially became one, but the _language_ of Christianity is the language of slaves under an imperial system. There literally is no way to express the concerns of the middle class, much less the ruling class, using the language of the NT. It’s literally unthinkable that a Christian would have to justify being in the 1%.

      I think there’s a bitter irony that the idea that “separation of church and state” is to protect the church is a “conservative” idea while the idea that it’s to protect the state is a “liberal” idea. When in fact, they’re both right – mixing the church and the state perverts both.

      Report

  17. ” The federal RFRA was passed with bipartisan votes, but the reason it did is because it wasn’t aimed at a certain population.”

    The federal RFRA was passed when the Feds hauled in the Comanche for using peyote in their religious ceremonies, and the Catholics had a shit-fit worrying over whether a sip of sacramental wine for a 12-year-old might be next. It had nothing to do with using religion as an excuse to be crappy to minorities or women, and extending it to allow for that was a Supreme Court decision second only to Dred Scott in wrongheadedness.

    Report

    • It was the State of Oregon, denying unemployment benefits to two men who were parishioners of the Native American Church. Their ancestry is not described in the opinion, but if they hailed from peoples with native roots in Oregon it’s unlikely there were Comanches. The Feds had little to do with it.

      Catholics worrying about whether dispensing a sip of sacramental wine to a minor would result in liability probably never actually had much to worry about except in theory, but in theory, yes they did have a concern because the majority opinion in Smith left open the door for a prosecutor properly motivated to do so to go after that practice.

      Hobby Lobby was wrongly decided, I agree, but I think it hardly rises to the level of Dred Scott v. Sandford or Korematsu v. United States or Bowers v. Hardwick in the lexicon of the half-dozen or so cases that, when mentioned, law school students are socialized to hiss at.

      Report


      • Hobby Lobby was wrongly decided, I agree, but I think it hardly rises to the level of Dred Scott v. Sandford or Korematsu v. United States or Bowers v. Hardwick in the lexicon of the half-dozen or so cases that, when mentioned, law school students are socialized to hiss at.

        Yes. Hobby Lobby is a wrongly decided judgement about a *law*, and hence automatically better than any wrongly decided constitutional cases. Hobby Lobby can supposedly be fixed by simply inserting the word ‘natural’ before ‘person’ in the RFRA.

        The actual danger with Hobby Lobby is now we’ve somehow gotten a precedent that organizations *can* have an exercise of religion, and the risk is eventually that freedom of religion, much like freedom of speech, will become part of the nonsensical group of ‘rights’ that corporations have.

        Report

        • That’s one of the dangers I see in Hobby Lobby, . Not the only one.

          Another danger is that religion is cast in wholly subjective terms, without reference to the beliefs and practices of any other person who identifies as practicing the “same” religion as the plaintiff. Maybe that’s an unsolvable problem, as long as we want to allow each individual to define their own religiosity.

          Another danger is that the Court takes upon itself the burden of conjuring up a “less restrictive means” for realization of a compelling governmental objective. If it can do so, the plaintiff wins. Leaving aside the fact that this renders the judge something of an advocate for the plaintiff against the government, it more importantly allows a plaintiff to plant whatever “less restrictive means” it wishes in the court’s mind and requires the government as defendant to prove a negative. I’ve yet to hear a convincing explanation of why antidiscrimination laws pursue “compelling” rather than merely “important” governmental objectives when applied to private-party employment or housing transactions, and why authorizing both public and private rights of action against employers or housing providers is the “least restrictive” means of eliminating discrimination in such transactions. And my concern is based on the fact that I believe, separate from the fact that it’s a big part of how I make my living, that it’s important to the law, the culture, and the economy that these enforcement provisions remain viable for the indefinite future.

          Report

      • and the risk is eventually that freedom of religion, much like freedom of speech, will become part of the nonsensical group of ‘rights’ that corporations have.

        The relevant issue, in my humble opinion at least, is not whether corporations have “rights.” It is whether corporations ought to be afforded equal protection under the law, which is a legal principle that courts have recognized for about two hundred years.

        Report

      • For RFRA purposes, , it seems to me that the relevant question is whether a corporation can have religious beliefs.

        Obviously corporations have at least some rights: the right to own property, the right to not have that property taken away without due process, the right to counsel, the right to enter into and enforce contracts, the right to sue and to be sued.

        Corporations don’t have other kinds of rights that individuals do have: privacy, for instance, or the franchise.

        Free speech is an area where corporations have some, but not all, of the rights of individuals. I think it’s worthwhile to ask precisely how far a corporation’s ability to engage in speech — by way of hiring others to speak on its behalf — can go. The resolution to that issue is far from obvious in my mind.

        But religious belief — that’s something that it seems meaningless to me to discuss with respect to corporations. I might believe in the beneficence of Ganesh in bestowing wisdom upon me should I worship him, but my corporation lacks that ability, just as it lacks the ability to fall in love or the ability to experience pain. The corporation is not sentient. The corporation is not human. It lacks the capability of experiencing religion. It lacks a soul the same way and for the same reasons that my spatula and my ratchet wrench lack souls: like the spatula and the ratchet wrench, it is merely a tool, a thing, an object. When the corporation ceases to exist, it will not go to Heaven or Valhalla or Gehenna.

        …But I repeat myself. I’ve made all these points before, many times, prominently, on these very pages.

        Report

      • Wasn’t defending Hobby Lobby or even speaking up for the “rights” of corporations, just reacting to that bit of excerpted text from . Equal protection doesn’t mean you have the absolute right to do anything. It just means that you have the protections of the law and the ability to seek redress when wronged.

        Report


      • But the existence of rights that corporations enjoy is different than rights we humans have, correct?
        In that corporations only exist because we collectively decided to create them, and collectively decided to grant the shareholders rights as a group.
        Its not like there is some naturally existing right to enjoy the corporate form of business is there?

        Report

      • Bear in mind that I’m quite skeptical of the theory of natural rights to begin with, . But no, obviously not. Joint stock corporations, as we know and them, today, are entirely a creation of positive law and within the 949-year-old Anglo-American legal tradition, their history goes back to “only” 1407.

        Report

      • In that corporations only exist because we collectively decided to create them, and collectively decided to grant the shareholders rights as a group.

        This is a weird statement. It’s like saying that telephone calls only exist because we collectively decided to invent telephones and because the law granted a charter to AT&T. The corporation is a form of industrial organization, essentially a form of technology.

        Generally, I find that people who rail against “corporate personhood” are railing against a version of that idea that is ahistorical, not in line with the present jurisprudence on the topic, and that almost no one actually believes.

        The idea that “corporations are people” is a straw man.

        Report


      • No, corporations are not technology.
        That is, they can’t exist without collective agreement.
        The whole point of corporations is that we- collectively- agree that such a legal fiction should exist.
        With a single decision, that could vanish tomorrow.
        We can’t collectively decide that telephones don’t exist.

        Report


      • The relevant issue, in my humble opinion at least, is not whether corporations have “rights.” It is whether corporations ought to be afforded equal protection under the law, which is a legal principle that courts have recognized for about two hundred years.

        Corporations have, and should have, ‘due process’ and ‘equal protection’ because they are property of natural people. And if the ‘property of property of people’ can be taken without due process, that’s the same as taking the property of people without due process. Likewise, if people’s property can be taken without equal protection, than that’s not having equal protection. (And thus I claim that civil forfeiture is wrong…wait, wrong topic.)

        And property rights is exactly where the line should have *stopped*. And even *that* is a useful fiction because it makes more sense to allow the corporation to be ‘in court’ asserting ‘its’ due process rights to the government taking $10,000 vs. of ten thousand shareholders trying to assert the government can’t take $1 from them.

        But that’s the end. Corporations don’t need ‘freedom of speech’. Corporations, being property, can be used for the speech of the owners (Or anyone), just like a tape recorder can. And if the government tries to stop the corporation from being used that way, that requires due process, because it is a ‘taking’ of the property from the owner. QED.

        Instead, we all went stupidly wrong in trying to ascribe the rights *to* the corporations. Which is basically akin to trying to ascribe freedom of press to a printing press, or freedom of religion to a pew. No, those, like corporations, are pieces of property that someone (Be it the owner or anyone else.) might use when exercising a right, not things that have rights.

        Of course, when we do it *that* way, when we talk about the right of the owner to use the corporation, it becomes clear when lines between the corporation and the owners get impermissibly breached, because you can’t just randomly use a corporation as your own private plaything, at least if you don’t own all of it, and often not even then. Hence the whole ‘Let’s pretend the corporation has rights it’s exercising!’ instead.


        Another danger is that the Court takes upon itself the burden of conjuring up a “less restrictive means” for realization of a compelling governmental objective. If it can do so, the plaintiff wins. Leaving aside the fact that this renders the judge something of an advocate for the plaintiff against the government, it more importantly allows a plaintiff to plant whatever “less restrictive means” it wishes in the court’s mind and requires the government as defendant to prove a negative.

        It’s always seemed to me that a *really* dangerous place for this to go would be into taxes. It’s almost always possible to argue that the government could have made money in some other way and accomplished the same goals.

        I switch back and forth between properly-designed (anti-discrimination exceptions, applicable only to humans, etc) RFRAs being useful laws or not. Sometimes I think of the unreasonable laws they can strike down, but then I remember that there are *entire classes of laws* where providing a ‘compelling government interest’ would be tricky, but they are still laws we need and want. (Or maybe we don’t need, but that idea we should have *random* opt-outs is still pretty dumb.)

        I think, perhaps, a better idea might be to *stop passing dumb laws* that actually restrict people’s freedom of religion. A lot of the legitimate focus on these restrictions seems to aimed at drug laws, which are themselves very very stupid to start with.

        Obviously corporations have at least some rights: the right to own property, the right to not have that property taken away without due process, the right to counsel, the right to enter into and enforce contracts, the right to sue and to be sued.

        Pretty sure the right to *be* sued is not actually a right of anyone. It’s…uh…a duty?

        And the right to counsel is really just part of the right to due process. They have a right to plead their case in court, and that right brings along a lawyer.

        I’m pretty sure corporations have the ability to own property and enter contracts because we’ve explicitly said they do, in law. I mean, I guess that can be called a ‘right’, but I’m not sure there’s any reason we couldn’t revoke it. (Well, revoke it for new corporations and/or new property. Revoking it for existing stuff is a due process nightmare.)

        Report

      • The difference between a corporation and a partnership is specifically this: the corporation is a legal person and limits the liability of its owners. This is true only because we all agree to it, not because it can be observed or measured in the way that a voice sent by wire can. Corporation = phone call is a truly ridiculous analogy.

        Report

      • No, corporations are not technology.

        I thought they were a) a legal fiction attributed b) personhood for purposes of law (especially tax law!) whose c) existence depends on a charter granted by a state. Doesn’t seem like a form of technology, or even the result of technology to me, tho I guess a wide enough view of what that word means could include it. But maybe j r is thinking of a more minimalist view of what that word means.

        Report

      • IIRC, it’s Brad Delong who claims that incorporation (as in the City of London) started in order to fit cities and other groups with flexible membership into the system of feudal fealty oaths and obligations both up and down. That is, the legal structures of the day applied to individuals: the lord promised protection, the vassal promised to behave properly in exchange. The problem was how to fit a city with a dynamic population into a scheme based on individual promises.

        Report

      • Corporation = phone call is a truly ridiculous analogy.

        Yes. Good thing that is not the analogy I made.

        But maybe j r is thinking of a more minimalist view of what that word means.

        I am using the literal definition of technology:

        Technology (from Greek ?????, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -?????, -logia[1]) is the collection of techniques, methods or processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation.

        Forms of industrial organization are technology. The assembly line, the supply chain, the special purpose entity, these are all forms of technology as much as the products that these processes help create.

        It’s one thing to say that the law enables corporations to exist with a specific set of legal principles, but as the idea of incorporating, by necessity, predates any law on incorporating, it doesn’t make much sense to say that the law creates corporations. Better to say that the law recognizes corporations and grants certain privileges and responsibilities. Or you can even say that the law on corporations evolved in tandem with the evolving structure of corporations.

        Report

  18. Dannis: “Would a public university be justified in denying tenure to a Orthodox Jewish religious studies professor who had stated support for Orthodox Judaism’s views on marriage?”

    Um, you might want to ask around about the First Amendment obligations of public institutions.

    Report

  19. Zane: “Gushee taught at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1990s and Union University from 1996 until 2007, both described as conservative institutions by Jonathan Merrit at Religion News Service. ”

    According to Slactivist, there was a serious purge in the Southern Baptist hierarchy in the 80’s and 90’s. People who ‘used to’ teach at various schools in that group were likely purged for liberalism.

    DavidTC: “It is not possible for ‘evangelical Christians’ to engage with LGBT people, because the second they do, ‘evangelical Christianity’ will instantly disavow them. ”

    To be accurate, white, right-wing evangelicals. Of course, the ‘liberal media’ seem to cooperate with white, right-wing evangelicals’ attempts to make themselves the arbiters of what ‘evangelical’ or ‘Christian’ means.

    Report

    • Of course, the ‘liberal media’ seem to cooperate with white, right-wing evangelicals’ attempts to make themselves the arbiters of what ‘evangelical’ or ‘Christian’ means.

      The ‘liberal media’ will always, in every possible circumstance, in every possible way, pick the most conservative representative of *every* mainstream group and present them as the spokesman. It’s why we get fucking Bill Donohue representing Catholics.

      For non-mainstream groups, the rules are:

      If it’s a group so conservative that that most conservative person would be a complete embarrassment, pick the most conservative without being an embarrassment. If even that person would be an embarrassment, try avoiding the entire topic altogether.

      If it’s a group so liberal that even the most conservative person would sound liberal, pick the craziest sounding guy and make him out to be a nutcase. If they can’t find a guy that sounds like a nutcase, try avoiding the entire topic altogether.

      The rules are pretty simple to deduce.

      Report

      • It’s why we get fucking Bill Donohue representing Catholics.

        No, that would be because the Catholic League hired him to be their president and spokesperson.

        Report

  20. Conor Friedersdorf has a piece at The Atlantic titled “Should Mom-and-Pops That Forgo Gay Weddings Be Destroyed?”* It’s prompted by the recent kerfuffle regarding Memories Pizza in Indiana. I wish that I thought there were any point to commenting there because I’d really like to discuss this. I think his framing is particularly problematic. Arguing that businesses should not be allowed to discriminate against LGBT people is not the same as advocating the destruction of such businesses. In particular, the response to Memories Pizza has not been the response of the state or of the legal system. It’s a public response, to be sure, but it’s certainly not part of any enforcement scheme I’ve seen. (Importantly, outside of a few localities in Indiana, it’s currently entirely legal for Memories Pizza to refuse to cater to a same-sex wedding or to turn away LGBT customers.)

    Framing the only two options as “free to turn away LGBT customers” or “total economic destruction of a business” makes the issue more divisive, not less.

    I know that authors often don’t choose the title of their work, but I also think that “businesses that quietly oppose gay marriage” is disingenuous given the circumstances in this case. I’ve not heard a call for penalizing businesses based on the owners’ political beliefs. The problem is whether businesses will discriminate against some customers, not what the owners believe.

    As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I ate at Chick-Fil-A knowing that it was likely the the owners of the corporation disapproved of gay marriage. It was only that I knew that the owners actively worked to ensure that gay marriage remain illegal that I decided I could no longer spend my money there. And my decision to boycott isn’t the same as saying that Chick-Fil-A should face legal sanction for making political donations I don’t agree with. I don’t think they should. I think that legal action is appropriate only when actual discrimination has occurred. These distinctions are important, and I’m frustrated that Friedersdorf chooses not to attend to the differences.

    *http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/should-businesses-that-quietly-oppose-gay-marriage-be-destroyed/389489/

    Report

  21. Pingback: Answering Ross Douthat | Ordinary Times

Comments are closed.