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November 20, 2008

Comments

I think there's another aspect- the sense that you just can't reason with social conservatives. That their thought processes are alien and crazed and beyond the realm of rational discourse.

It seems like religious social conservatives not only want to create rules which affect our lives on a very personal level, but also that they want to do so for fundamentally incommunicable private reasons.

*yeah, I know they say the same about liberals, yadda yadda, insert standard disclaimer here*

There is nothing I can add to this that would more clearly express my own feelings on the matter. Well done.

Shorter Patrick: The God-card - high trump over reason.

And what Catsy said.

"It seems like religious social conservatives not only want to create rules which affect our lives on a very personal level, but also that they want to do so for fundamentally incommunicable private reasons."

They don't seem particularly incommunicable to me; they simply are based on assumptions I don't share. But I don't have any trouble understanding their reasons, which are quite public, for the most part. I just don't agree with them.

The assumptions aren't terribly subject to rational discourse, since they're matters of faith, but beyond those, rational discourse between myself and religious conservatives is possible up to a point; the main problem is always those fundamental assumptions.

(Assumptions such as "there is a personal God, the Bible tells us about said God, there would be no morality without this God," and so on.)

That said, I’m not saying that social conservatives are acting in bad faith. This is what they believe

This is what they say they believe.

Mostly, however, it turns out they're lying: the policies of forced pregnancy, with its mass deaths and failure to reduce abortion rates, are claimed to be because they believe in sacredness of human life.

The policies of opposing same-sex marriage, or any legal recognition of same-sex relationships, are claimed to be because they know God disapproves and they have to inflict God's will: the plain fact that inflicting "God's will" via legislation is at best a Star Trek God needs a starship, and at worst a plain attack on freedom of belief, is met with "But if legislation doesn't support what I believe, that's an attack on my freedom of belief!"

(Confront them with the multiple textual references that argue strongly, Biblically, against this position they're taking, and they go slightly nuts trying to explain how Jewish purity laws and Pauline letters are more indicative of "God's will" than anything recorded in the gospels... I think they think of Jesus as a slightly ditzy leader, to be revered but not listened to.)

There is, at least at the emotional level, some symmetry here; the religious right does feel just as threatened by the prospect of gay marriage, or nearly any other change you could name, as we are by their snatching it away.

It's hard to explain why without entering their mindset, which is intrinsically difficult for non-authoritarians, and I'm feeling way too mellow to attempt it tonight. Let me just note that gay marriage is indeed a threat to "traditional family" values, that any affirmation of atheism is considered an affront to "religious tolerance", by which authoritarians mean allowing them to do whatever they want, and that any challenge to their received wisdom is perceived as a lethal threat.

Halloween's over, Obama's elected, we ought perhaps to drop the tent flap and forget the horror show we've seen. As a Californian, I'm nearly content to wonder how the Governator could run for re-election opposing gay marriage.

Much of the problem with religiously motivated social conservatives is their apparent belief that God is such a weenie that He needs Caesar's help.

Liberals' antipathy toward religiously motivated social conservatives is problematic because they are not familiar enough with the language and mindset of fundamentalist religion to deconstruct the intellectual trainwreck of wingnut theology.

It wasn't George W. Bush that said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kindom of Heaven.

It wasn't Tom DeLay that said, "My kingdom is not of this world."

It wasn't Newt Gingrich that said the love of money is the root of all evil.

I think there are several other components here.

First, for some people in the liberal coalition, although not all, Social Conservatives demonize either that person or a close friend/family member to a degree greater than pretty much any other major, influential group in American politics. There are other segments that may call an ideology, a leader, or a belief a problem and demonize it, but there are fairly few that actually seem to identify the individual persons as horrible and demonic for something that feels innate to that person's being.

So as a secular semi-atheist, I hear these people telling me that I *am* the problem with America; that I'm responsible for their failed marriages (apparently my incredibly happy immediate family is sucking up all the good marriage energy or something), and that I'm imposing my secular fascist will on them. The last is perhaps closer to what other interest groups may say, but it so inherently reeks of a sense of hypocritical entitlement - that I'm being oppressed if I'm not allowed to oppress you - and is so desperately far from empirical reality. Ultimately, the mere fact that I exist in my current state in their country is enough to irritate and militarize many of the extreme social conservatives, while I have no built in problem with them believing whatever they wish as long as it isn't legislated.

I imagine something similar, and probably worse, is in the minds of my gay friends or their families.

As a side note, the most wonderfully hypocritical sight in the world is a member of the typical Religious Right complaining about blacks playing the politics of victimhood and blaming all their problems on others. Last I checked, these are the same people who believe they're being ruthlessly persecuted (by groups comprising less than a third as large a segment of the population!) and who blame most of their own ills on those same groups.

Second, there's a truly frightening strand of know-nothingness that runs through the Republican party in general, but is particularly evident among the social conservatives. Actually, we should say the "Religious Right"; there are plenty of people who, on the issues, qualify as socially conservative without having these traits. Unfortunately, America as a whole is not particularly fond of intellectuals or "brainiacs", but there are still enough people that realize that dismissing the importance of education, knowledge, and expertise - not just in politics but across most of the board - is one of the most disastrous routes to take.

From this perspective, the problem is less that these RR Fundamentalists believe in the literal truth of the Bible, and that it is the source of their morality and assertions, making them difficult to argue with. It's that a disturbing number take the literal truth of the Bible, maybe a little right-wing talk radio, and say "That's all, folks!"; that you really don't need to know anything more. It's that *disengagement* with everything else more than the addition of biblical literalism that's frightening.

Although I suspect some here will disagree with me on this, the economic libertarian wing of the Republican party has some substantial intellectual heft, at least in terms of serious thinkers and experts who are closer to their position than they are to a doctrinaire Democrat. Are there a lot of problems with those theories - particularly the most extreme ones - in practice? Yes. Are a lot of the followers, and not a few of their icons, cultish? Sure. But there are a lot of economic thinkers who could be classed as 'Libertarian', especially if you take the broader definition (IE, left side of the spectrum on social issues, right side of the spectrum on economic issues, and generally small government; not necessarily NO government), who have provided valuable scholarship and works whether you agree with their personal economic viewpoints or not.

Third is the fact that most members of the real, hardcore Religious Right fit the personality mold known to psychologists as "Right Wing Authoritarianism". Right wing is a bit of a misnomer in that it's not necessarily a particular set of issues "right wing", it's the more generic sense of being in favor of authority, conformity, the status quo, and feeling threatened by any dissent or difference. That is to say, RWAs in a Communist country could well be strong political "leftists".

Here's a free online E-book on this: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

It's worth noting that Altemeyer has also done research comparing atheists and believers, of varying degrees of fervor; he's found that many negative characteristics (such as racism, sexism, hypocrisy of insisting upon rights for the self but wanting to impose on others') at first appear more common among strong religious believers. But in fact, once you account for RWA scores, it's pretty much even, with strong believers even somewhat less racist (presumably because they have a non-racial basic identity far stronger than their racial identity). The problem isn't religiosity - even evangelical, fundamentalist, fervent religiosity - per se; it's the large cluster of RWA personalities overwhelmingly attracted to it. Essentially, the Religious Right.

Finally, there are also a few things that are far from unique to the RR, but *always* scare me and seem more common there, such as a devotion to doctrinal purity and ideological crusade over practical steps.

On the psychology, isn't there also always at the back of peoples' minds apocalyptic fears? I think European liberals (as opposed to US ones) only got suddenly worried about US fundamentalists, rather than treating them as a joke, after the September 11th attacks and US reactions to that. The thought that influential people in the US might actively want wars in the Middle East or the end times to come makes the theocrats seem scary even to those not affected directly by their laws.

And equally, social conservatives always tend to see social changes as inevitably leading to apocalypse, chaos etc. The form this takes varies over the centuries from the working class mob, to the feral teenagers to the crazed Islamic hordes, but the threat is always there.

I think it's these bigger and nebulous threats, however unrealistic they are, that tend to colour liberals' and conservatives' view of even relatively insignificant changes in the balances between them. If your opponents are starting on the slippery slope towards Armageddon or Babylon respectively, it's hard to compromise with them.

Some of this I think is the (relative) quick pace of change over the last few years. Sodomy laws came with the colonists from England. Lawrence v. Texas was only 5 years ago.

It was only 46 years ago that sodomy was a felony in every state.

Most of the states did not repeal their sodomy laws until the 70’s – they’ve only been off the books for around 30 years. There were some real stragglers: AZ-2001, AK-2002, GA-1998, MD-1998, RI-1998, etc.)

6 years ago (before Lawrence), sodomy could still (in theory) get you a life sentence in Idaho, or 15 years in Michigan (life for repeat offenders), or 10 years in MS or NC or OK. Hell, TX was a beacon of light as it was only a misdemeanor there.

So the Christian Right has a pretty solid basis to feel that history is on their side, with the basis of these laws right there in their bibles. It’s only been a few years between harsh sodomy laws in some states and some states legalizing gay marriage. I don’t agree with them and the extremists creep me out as much as they do you – but from a strictly historical context I can understand why they believe it’s their beliefs under attack by the legislature and the courts the last few decades.

I don’t agree with them and the extremists creep me out as much as they do you – but from a strictly historical context I can understand why they believe it’s their beliefs under attack by the legislature and the courts the last few decades.

Oh sure. The legislature and the courts for the past few decades have been moving the US (more slowly than other parts of the world) towards the principle of universal human rights, support for diversity and equality, a decent standard of living for all, and against discrimination and injustice based on bigotry.

This direction goes fundamentally against the basic beliefs of conservatives that people are fundamentally unequal and ought to be treated that way, that poverty is a useful tool to keep the masses in line, that it's appropriate to subjugate and divide the masses using prejudices about religion, race, women, LGBT people, etc. This direction that the rest of the Western world has been taking is an attack on these settled conservative beliefs.

The problem for me is when they try to justify their beliefs as right by (a) asserting that it's a basic principle of American democracy that the majority should get to vote rights away from a minority or (b) by arguing that the politics of hate and discrimination and mass death are only what Jesus wants them to do.

Well, the other problem for me is when they're running the US or any other country. That's actually a more significant problem than their historically false claims about US democracy or their textually-false claims about their God.

I think the problem is as much in the definition.

What makes one a member of the Christian right? Is just being a Christian, pro life, and in the GOP mean you are part of the Christian right?

I don't personally strongly identify with social conservatives-other than issues of life. But I am a committed Christian and could care less what label is hung on me with regard to evangelical or fundamentalism. I often feel attacked and marginalized when people call for my voice to be shut down or to be kicked out of the party etc.

I think half the problem is that the left demonizes Christians in general if they aren't playing on the liberal side of the aisle, and there is much fluidity in what makes somebody identify with a party outside of their Christianity.

So personally, before anyone starts talking about damage to a party I would like to have a clear definition of just what the Christian Right is.

For conservatives — especially social conservatives, and especially religious conservatives — the question has been whether the courts will allow their views, not whether the courts will mandate them.

I can believe that that is what they think, but in most cases it is a complete inversion of the truth. California's and Massachusetts's courts didn't force social conservatives to marry gay people, and Roe vs Wade didn't force them to have abortions. About the only thing I can think of where the opposite holds is government endorsement of religion, and even then, most of their views are allowed, just not their view that their views should be endorsed or mandated by the government.


As for me, the reason religious conservatives (and by that I really mean "literalists") are "oogedy-boogedy" for me isn't so much the assault on my rights - being based in the UK that's more abstract for me. Instead it's because their authority/text based worldview is so alien and anti-progress. The idea that someone could resolve a conflict between mountains of physical evidence and (their specific interpretation of) an ancient text by going with the ancient text baffles and terrifies me.

what's so pernicious about the religious right's attitude towards gay marriage (as with all of their attitudes) is that they presume to impose their religious doctrine on all of us, by reducing our liberties, in order to please their god.

secular liberals want to make it possible for people to do more things; religionists can still do what they want to do, but other people can now do what they want to do, too. the only party who should be upset by this is their god, and he doesn't get a vote.

Let me just note that gay marriage is indeed a threat to "traditional family" values

i have never been able to understand this. the only way gay marriage is a threat to a traditional family value is if the threatened value is "marriage is something that gays are excluded from". but, nobody ever defines marriage that way - it's always defined as something a man and a woman can do, not what other pairings can not. until the question of state-recognized gay marriage came up, nobody defined marriage as a negative right: something gays can't do. so, what is this "value" that is threatened ?

and obviously, allowing gays to marry doesn't change the "man and women can do" definition, men and women can still marry, and stay married. so, traditional marriage (something a man and a woman can do) isn't threatened.

or, as someone else put it: don't like gay marriage? don't have one.

the fact that the religionists' complaint makes no logical sense makes me think they aren't arguing in good faith (pun intended).

I admit to skimming the post, pub, but I think you and Orin Kerr have it backwards. Social conservatives *are scary* because they used to have law on their side and they distinctly and determinedly used it to enforce their religious and moral views on everyone else. Anyone remember the puritans in Ma at the start of this whole shebang? Courts were, until recently, the enforcers of a very strict code of conservative entitlements from fines levied on the unmarried, punishments for fornication, bastardy laws that disenfranchised illegitimate children, slavery, blue laws--you name it the law, at earlier and less democratic phases, is an oppressor of liberals and their ilk. That for a brief period the promise of equality and justice was used to beat back the oppressive and repressive acts of the majority (or, as we know call them, the conservatives formerly known as the majority) of conservatives doesn't wipe out that history.

No matter what the religious right, and that is who we are talking about, whines and shrieks it is not liberals who are forcing everyone to have abortions, or to stop going to church, it is conservatives who are attempting and have always been attempting to use law to force non believers and liberals to follow the idiosyncratic precepts of a few christian sects.

aimai

just me: I think half the problem is that the left demonizes Christians in general if they aren't playing on the liberal side of the aisle

I think that the Christians who prefer the rightwards side of the aisle to the human rights and equality side, are doing a fine job of demonizing themselves. For example, a Christian rightist on my journal recently asserted that it would be only Christian for a businessman to deny health insurance to the same-sex spouses of his employees, in order to show that he did not support their immoral lifestyle. For example, the Pope - who shares with George W. Bush the honour of being the most influential rightist-Christian in the world - will tomorrow excommunicate a 70 year old Catholic priest who has led campaigns against torture, because of his active support for women's ordination. cite

Just me,
I read backwards through the comments thread and I thought this deserved some careful consideration:

"The left demonizes Christians in general if they aren't playing on the liberal side of the aisle, and there is much fluidity in what makes somebody identify with a party outside of their Christianity."

As someone who has been hanging out on Christianist blogs and getting into scraps over dogma I get where you are coming from, but I challenge the prhase "the left demonizes chirstians in general if they aren't paying on the liberal side of the aisle." If we distinguish between kinds of christians due to party affiliation or interpretation of dogma we can't be accused of "demonizing christians in general." I think its more accurate to say that the left demonizes Christians in the far right side of the political spectrum but is often ignorant of the many Christians who are on the center left. I don't put myself in that number, but that is neither here nor there. If you wander the fever swamps of the far right Christianist community you find a great and terrible conflation of nationalism, jingoism, biblical literalism, and capitalist triumphalism that makes their version of Christianity as much an epiphenomenon of modern american consumer culture as Oprah's fake spirituality. In fact, as you drill down into what they are really arguing the principle thing that differentiates modern right wing christianity from any other modern cult is its emphasis on suffering, the g-d who inflicts suffering, and its enraged sense of isolation and anger. That's not something liberals project onto *christians* its something that is naturally to be seen and understood the more you see the way christianity and conservativism have become intertwined in popular american theology.

aimai

Gay marriage is a threat to a view of marriage that says that the main thing a marriage exists to do is produce children. Gay marriage highlights that what marriage is about now in Western societies is sexual pleasure and mutual love as much as about creating stable families (although gay couples can also have stable families). But it's not just gay marriages that reflect this new understanding of marriage: so do most modern heterosexual marriages. Social conservatives' flailing around about gay marriages is mostly a reflection that they've already completely lost the cultural argument about what straight marriages ought to be like.

The militancy and anti-intellectualism of social conservatives is a big part of the issue here as well.

As Patrick points out, these are beliefs beyond reason. As Jesurgislac notes, they have little support in the teachings of the fellow they claim to believe is their savior, but whom they treat as a mascot.

And with the rapturous reception of Sarah Palin, they've made clear that they view themselves solely as a tribe, with no standards whatsoever for their leaders other than "one of us."

Dobson and Palin provoke "visceral loathing," but I don't think that Mike Huckabee does. It's just that most so-called social conservatives value group allegiance above all other things, and are eager to demonize and legislate against other groups.

It's very different for libertarians/conservatives who don't like fire codes, tax rates being returned to their Clinton-era levels, and school integration.

I'm not bothered so much by people who use religion to justify prejudice or to aggrandize themselves as more moral than their neighbors; their behavior strikes me as rude, but within the range of what can be fought out through politics.

I am more bothered by two things:

1. The waste of time. We have real problems: goblal warming, for example. It is a waste of time to distract the electorate by centering political campaigns around issues like the demonization of gay people or the entirely false claim of being "pro-life". It's fiddling while Rome burns.

2. The deathwish aspect. The End Times types don't want to solve real problems. They actually want the world to go up in flames. I don't want suicidally-motivated people to kill me and you in their pursuit of an imaginary afterlife.

Second, there's a truly frightening strand of know-nothingness that runs through the Republican party in general, but is particularly evident among the social conservatives.

...

From this perspective, the problem is less that these RR Fundamentalists believe in the literal truth of the Bible, and that it is the source of their morality and assertions, making them difficult to argue with. It's that a disturbing number take the literal truth of the Bible, maybe a little right-wing talk radio, and say "That's all, folks!"; that you really don't need to know anything more. It's that *disengagement* with everything else more than the addition of biblical literalism that's frightening.

I agree with most everything in this comment, but would like to add on a bit. The aspect of social conservatism that bugs me the worst is the anti-science perspective, and I can't help but think that comes directly from their beliefs about creationism. It is infuriating to see people from the Discovery Institute trying to destroy this country's science educational standards, but it's downright scary when I see those same stupid logical mistakes worming their way into a debate about, say, global warming or vaccines.

To me, that is the most pernicious and destructive part of the whole movement.

just me: "So personally, before anyone starts talking about damage to a party I would like to have a clear definition of just what the Christian Right is."

I'm not going to come up with a clear definition, but here's a gesture in its direction.

There are lots of Christians who are simply concerned to live out, in their own lives, the teachings of Christ. They are not "the Christian Right". There are some who are social Christians: whether or not they are part of "the Christian Right" depends on which group they are part of (if being a social Christian, in their case, means hanging with Pat Robertson, they are; if it means hanging with the brothers at Taize, not so much), but they are not really its core.

The Christian right, to me, comprises Christians whose Christianity includes things that are not in the Bible (God making you rich, Christianity as requiring political power), and makes central things that are not central (abortion, gay marriage). Since ex-Christian me can find very little reason within Christianity why these things should matter to them, and in some cases a lot of reasons why it shouldn't, and since moreover a lot of things that they do require the suppression of such Christian virtues as charity, I think: whatever is at work here, it's not just unadorned Christianity. When someone is (a) like this and (b) very conservative, I put them in the 'Christian right' category, recognizing that it's a bit unfair to Christianity.

(Obviously, this isn't entirely a right-wing phenomenon. All sorts of people try to coopt Christianity. At the moment, though, for whatever reason, more of the coopters seem to me to have settled on the right.)

I think that sometimes, people on the left who do not know much about Christianity identify such people with Christianity. They are of course helped in this by the fact that those people identify themselves with Christianity. But I think that's deeply wrong, not just because there are Christians of every political persuasion, but because the people I'm talking about are in fact deeply heterodox.

Just to pick one little example: think of all the people who predict the apocalypse. Whenever you read one of them, recall that Christ said that no one knows when it will be, not even the angels in heaven, only God the Father. The moral is supposed to be: be prepared for Christ to come again at any time. Don't let your guard down ever. Don't imagine that there is time to stop being virtuous since you can always make it up later: there may not be. Because you don't know.

Whatever moves Hal Lindsey, it's not adherence to the word of God, at least in this respect.

Religious fundamentalists with a political agenda claim to speak for and on behalf of God. Who wants to be led, or even listen to, someone who thinks they are in direct contact with God? I consider myself a Christian and a lot of Christians I know--Christians who definitely qualify as politically engaged, in-contact-with-the-Lord--are also some of the meanest SOB's around. I also know a goodly number of left wing secularists whose arrogance, self-certainty, etc. makes them indistinguishable from those on the hard Christian right.

Where the Christian fundies get it wrong is that, if you accept the premise of an omnipotent divine being who judges us by how we live our lives, that divine being really doesn't need much help from mere mortals in the here and now. If one accepts the premise that God created the entire universe, then dealing with mortals who stray from his plan is no big deal at all--God certainly does not need anyone's help in meting out divine justice. Free will is one of God's gifts to mortals and God will decide whether Bill or Barbara has exercised their free will in a way that gets them into heaven--at least, that is the theory as I understand it.

Jesus never sought to sit on Caesar's thrown, nor did he suggest his followers try to do so. Yet, the hard Christian right, with their End Times underpinning seek to do just that. For conservatives like me, it's an embarrassment, not to mention a huge impediment to putting forth a coherent position against the left's love of ever-growing government.

I think Publius has it exactly right. As a card-carrying atheist (with my spouse either atheist or pagan depending on when you ask her), I'm scared of social conservatives. I know that their vision of America doesn't include me and my family and that if social conservatives had the political power they crave they would use it to make that vision a reality. I don't know how they'd do that. I can imagine being a social (and probably legal) outcast, forced deportation or worse. What scares me the most is that I think a socially conservative state would try to take our daughter away - "for her own good", of course, because her mother and I are bad influences.

I have plenty of political disagreements with social conservatives (abortion, same-sex marriage, school prayer and so on), but, at bottom, the reason I can't conceive of supporting Republican candidates under most circumstances (with the rare exception of a local, socially moderate candidate) is that I know that their socially conservative supporters want to come for me and mine. And if I want to stay an American, I have no choice but to fight them with every tool at my disposal. Today, we may still be far away from the dystopia that terrifies me, but, as I've seen over the years, that is no guarantee about tomorrow.

Taking one of Publius' points:

"Personally, I think the oogedy-boogedyness stems from fear – on some level, liberals are simply afraid of social conservatives. Fairly or no, liberals perceive them as a direct and credible threat to their own personal liberties."

It isn't fear of social conservatives that I feel - it's fear of far right social conservatives aligned with the cynical moneyed elite. If social conservatism has no political power other than what they gain through their own efforts, then they don't threaten me and for my part are free to believe and argue for whatever they want and can get past the courts. However, when you align hypocritical money with religious conservatism, you have a very toxic cocktail.

I know this thread is about "Christian" oogedy-boogeddy, but my own feeling is that conservative oogeddy-boogeddy about federal policy initiatives designed to address real problems (you cn't do that ! it's against my ideology! It's statism! it's socialism!It's bad for business! It violates state's rights! etc) is far more harmful to our society.

Name any real domestic problem in the last one hundred years and conwserrvatives have had an oogeddy-boogeddy fit about any attempts to address the problems. That includes everything from child labor laws to the extinction of species. If a problem is of significance to the society as a whole and our future well being, then conservatives are opposed to using the power of governemtn to solve it. Oogeddy-boogeddy!

Drive the religious rightists out of the Republican party and what you have left is people who are just as much know-nothing faith based irrationalists, just from an ideological starting point, rather than a religious starting point.

Re "traditional" marriage -

I'm kinda hoping bad Jim unmellows soon and says more about the RR mindset (with rapid re-mellowing if desired!), but over at Pandagon Amanda was arguing that for these folks, " marriage is less about love and companionship [although those are also important] than it is about social order and subjugating women." I'd suggest gender roles and specific ideas of the family - which is basically a slightly less upfront way of saying the same thing. Magistra's point is also spot on; arguably wider and very long term changes in the western idea of marriage (early versions of said changes were also brought over by colonists from England, and others) is one reason gay marriage is so . . . sensible for lots of folks - perhaps a bit unusual at first, but really, obviously two adults who love each other and want to be a family (in whatever sense) should be able to get married. Which gets back to gender roles.

The genius of the modern Christian right in the US has been its success in redefining secular governance as an affirmative and active choice rather than a necessary condition for religious freedom in a pluralistic society. Once "secular humanism" is just another option, the gates open wide.

I think that the comment upthread abo0ut authoritarian personality types is one the money.

To me the essence of oogeddy-bogeddy is an inndividual's desire to have all the answers and to be protected from the scariness of ambiguity or the possiblity of being wrong, this desire being a feature of authoritarian personalites.

Such people exist in every culture. They like to run things. Since they have to be right and don't necessariy believe things that bear much relationship with objective reality, they tend to screw up what ever institutions they take over.

It isn't a right/left phenomenon. Hugo Chavez, for example, seems like an authoritarian personality type.

So why is the oogeddy boogetty so nasty? It's the prospect of being bossed around by incompetents who aren't even well intentioned.

I think European liberals (as opposed to US ones) only got suddenly worried about US fundamentalists...after the September 11th attacks...The thought that influential people in the US might actively want wars in the Middle East or the end times to come makes the theocrats seem scary even to those not affected directly by their laws.

Yes, and with good reason. The 9/11 attacks demanded that we all look at religion, and its role in the State, critically - any religion and any State. Rhetorically militant atheists think that monotheistic religion is simply pernicious, and a glance or two at history can support that claim very well. Wise Believers, like some who have been commenting on these posts, see the evil done in the name of religion as a simple (but gross) misunderstanding of the religion in question, and there is ample support for that view as well. To me, the bottom line is that both are partially right: religion brings out the best and worst in humanity; it is the irreducible nature of it to do so, and you don't get one without the other.

However, it's the religious folk who are in arrears here, since there is virtually no support (aforementioned rhetorically militant atheists notwithstanding) among western secular people for proscribing religious practice or belief. Indulge in all the paranoid fantasies you might want, but this is not the old USSR or China. Freedom and plurality are the very things so called secular humanists want to *preserve*; it is some of *you* who want to proscribe the freedom of others, with your imposition of religious laws, relatively mild (prop 8) or relatively harsh (sharia).

I have no sympathy for just_me's whining about being 'demonized'. First century Christians didn't whine and they were actually murdered for their faith. That some people disagree with you and don't want your religious imperatives imposed on them is not an irrational attack on your religion. The Christian church as a whole is probably the most powerful and influential institution in the US! Defend yourself (again, it's only rhetorical - sticks and stones...) or not, but don't whine.

Religion brings out the best and the worst. A system of ethics, broadly speaking, is the 'best' part. But the idea that Faith Trumps All is what brings out the worst, and you really can't separate that away from monotheistic religion - you don't get to just believe the parts you approve of. There's a name for people who think monotheism is really just a wonderful ethical heritage: secularists. I heard an interview with Karen Armstrong recently, in which she waved away objections to Christianity - that it is fundamentally and suffocatingly doctrinal - by simply asserting that it isn't, really. But of course, it really *is* quite doctrinal, and not liking that doesn't make it not-so. She called herself a 'free-lance monotheist'. A nice phrase, but an impossible thing from the point of view of a devout Christian, Muslim or Jew. These religions are what they are. I think people should be free to choose, but not free to avoid choosing, so long as their beliefs insinuate themselves into the lives of others.

I have some friends who are lovely and tolerant people, but they vote Republican (or have done up to now) for one reason: they are pro-life. I see this as an abdication of responsibility, not a fulfillment of it: vis a vis abortion, government can mostly do only what government can do - prohibit. Since my friends - and every other prolife American I've ever asked - don't believe in arresting women who get abortions, what else would you have the *government* to do? Mainstream parts of the pro-choice contingent are forever trying to find ways to make abortion less frequent; and said contingent is trying now to ally with conservatives right now, hitting quite a bit of resistance from others who think it's a 'sell out'. Is it a sell out or not? You don't get to avoid dealing with this conundrum just because you 'have faith'. This avoidance is exactly like some conservative ideologues ultimately refusing to justify their policies by saying that it's 'just their ideology'. That justifies nothing. Leftists (real Marxist/Leninist leftists) have justified Lenin's (and Che's, et. al.) barbarities by saying that they were motivated by a sincere belief that what they were doing was for the ultimate good of mankind. There is no doubt that bin Laden feels the same about his murders, etc. - that he is sincere. I likewise don't doubt the sincerity of Dobson or many other political Christians in this country. They're sincere, all right. So what?

Religion is both wonderfully salutary and horribly, fatally dangerous. It simply is what it is, not what we wish it were. So, what's the answer? Separation of Church and State. Since the separation of your values - religious or otherwise - from how you vote is impossible, it's absurd to think that a separation of Church and State demands for you to do so. Yes, there is a tension there, but it's the best we can do. Otherwise, the rhetorically militant anti-religionists must win the day.

Gary Farber wrote, "They don't seem particularly incommunicable to me; they simply are based on assumptions I don't share. But I don't have any trouble understanding their reasons, which are quite public, for the most part. I just don't agree with them."
They're "public" in the sense that they're openly admitted to, and available for anyone to hear about. They're not "public" in the political science sense.

In political science a "public reason" is one which speaks to values and concerns commonly shared amongst the populace. It is set opposite to a "private reason" which speaks only to personal, subjective concerns.

When conservatives argue that gay marriage will cause a rise in heterosexual divorces, this is a public reason- a lower divorce rate is popularly considered a good thing, so, if true, this argument would be a stone on the scale in favor of banning gay marriage.

When conservatives argue that gay marriage is an abomination in the eyes of god, this is a private reason. If you do not believe in the existence of god, nor abominations and eyes therein, this argument has no power to convince you.

Obviously public and private reasons are subjective to the community in which they exist. But its a good way to really start understanding the difference between liberal/conservative debates on issues like foreign policy (we both generally want the same things, security, a lack of mass graves, etc, we just have very different visions of how to attain them, so we can discuss these matters intelligently if we try), and liberal/conservative debates on issues like gay marriage or abortion, where one side believes that something is Just Plain Wrong, and the other doesn't, and there are no fundamental shared values to which we can refer to decide.

Some of the fear is pretty straightforward, simple, and completely justified. It's based on actual, physical fear of assault. Men beat "uppity" wives and girlfriends, thugs beat gay men on the street.

The hate preachers and their active followers create an environment that fosters these assaults (whether or not any one of them would defend the crimes).

People make the connection.

An apt summary.

There is mutual fear on each side that the other side wants to seize the power of the State to dictate their personal views upon their opponents.

Being one of those kooky libertarians, my own personal solution would be to leave the State out of it. Let folks make and write up their own marriage contracts, and let them validate it however they choose (be it doing nothing, getting married in a church that accepts them, or getting married by a voodoo priest, whatever).

And let religious institutions speak as they please without fear of government sanction, unless they advocate real violence.

and liberal/conservative debates on issues like gay marriage or abortion, where one side believes that something is Just Plain Wrong, and the other doesn't, and there are no fundamental shared values to which we can refer to decide.

I disagree. We both need to appeal to a shared American heritage, the fundamental rights established in the Declaration of Independence, that all men (and women) have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that some, in their pursuit of happiness, may very well do things that you find objectionable. But, in so far, as you are not harming one another directly and personally, you each have a right to continue.

I am not a pollster, so I have no idea exactly how well it would fly, but I think if both sides would agree to that, an understanding could eventually be reached on issues of concern, at least to the large segment of the population that would just like to live their own lives free from interference and be generally left alone.

Personally, I think the oogedy-boogedyness stems from fear – on some level, liberals are simply afraid of social conservatives. Fairly or no, liberals perceive them as a direct and credible threat to their own personal liberties.

Interestingly, this same fear is precisely why social conservatives loathe liberals – on some level, they are afraid of us.

I thought you were going to go there but you stopped short. I don't have time this morning to do this the way I'd like to, so I'll try it with bullet points:

1) I think a better term for what you're calling "social conservatives" would be superstitious conservatives.

2) Superstitious conservatives have taken refuge in superstition because they are afraid. Their fear comes from many sources, not the least of which is social change. Christianity is incindental, not central, to this phenomenon.

3) It's a mistake to see superstitious conservatives as undifferentiated from the few masters who manipulate fear for their own personal advantage. Literature is full of such carney preachers/hucksters as Dobson, Fallwell, et al.

4) Superstitious conservatives don't hate social liberals. They see them as symbols of the change they fear.

5) Attacking the head of this monster (i.e., Dobson) will not work. Two new heads will grow before the first is cold.

6) Fear is inherently irrational and cannot be breached with rational arguments. The approach to take in dealing with fear is patience, reassurance, and example. When the heart stops, the head will become irrelevant.

7) The GOP attached themselves to the superstitious conservatives because they thought it would work. It was cynical and immoral, and the chickens are cominng home to roost.

"The restrictions on stem cell research have surely set several cures back many years – costing God knows how many lives."

This is a patently ridiculous statement. All of the advances made in stem-cell research have been accomplished without destroying embryos. There is no evidence that the failure to federally fund ESCR has set any cures back, or resulted in anyone's death.

Feddie: The restrictions on federally funded ESCR research have put huge roadblocks in the way of ESCR research, as they were intended to. They will surely cost lives, though they probably have not done so yet. They will do so by delaying our progress towards a cure. During that delay, people will die.

It's hard to come up with evidence, since what you'd need is to show that absent some of the obstacles to research, a cure would have been found. That sort of counterfactual is very hard to prove. But it's hard to see how making ESCR research much more difficult would not delay that research.

I have no problem with people arguing against ESCR research on moral grounds. But it's disingenuous to pretend that that opposition is cost-free.

The End Times types don't want to solve real problems. They actually want the world to go up in flames. I don't want suicidally-motivated people to kill me and you in their pursuit of an imaginary afterlife.

They're not actually suicidally motivated, because they believe they'll be physically removed from earth before the worst stuff happens.

Some of the fear is pretty straightforward, simple, and completely justified.

This is correct. Threats of violence, and actual acts of violence, are more common from the right (however construed) toward the left (ditto) than vice versa.

The bottom line here, in both (or all) directions is that not everyone is like you. You don't have to approve of, like, support, or even want to know all that much about what other folks do. You just have to accept the fact that other kinds of folks exist.

And by "accept" I mean accept that they deserve to exist, just as they are.

It's a big world.

Thanks -

The oogedy factor for me is my perception of many on the conservative right who seem all to willing to scrap our constitutional liberal democracy if it means they can get their interpretation of the bible as the law of the land.
To me, they are like dry kindling waiting for the flames of fascism. Sure, it's not a big group but it is big enough to be courted by the republican party. That's too big.

I disagree. We both need to appeal to a shared American heritage, the fundamental rights established in the Declaration of Independence, that all men (and women) have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Are you asserting that people should only vote/lobby based a certain common set of values which we call "the American heritage", and check the rest of their principles at the door?

Regardless, I think you are missing Patrick's point, which is that many people _do_ have political beliefs based on tenets which are fundamentally inarguable, making reasoned debate impossible.

The aspect of social conservatism that bugs me the worst is the anti-science perspective, and I can't help but think that comes directly from their beliefs about creationism. It is infuriating to see people from the Discovery Institute trying to destroy this country's science educational standards, but it's downright scary when I see those same stupid logical mistakes worming their way into a debate about, say, global warming or vaccines.

This. How many years has stem cell research been delayed? How much funding was not given to the fight against AIDS during the years it was characterized as a 'gay problem'? How many kids are currently learning that evolution is 'just a theory', and will vote for stupid shit because they were taught stupid shit?

It's not just the intrusion into people's private lives, though that's the part that drives me actively crazy, and that I think has drawn a lot of people away from the party (see newly blue New Hampshire). It's the enshrinement of ignorance and know-nothing-ism.

Hilzoy, I like your definition. It certainly jives with my experience.

The bottom line here, in both (or all) directions is that not everyone is like you. You don't have to approve of, like, support, or even want to know all that much about what other folks do. You just have to accept the fact that other kinds of folks exist.

And by "accept" I mean accept that they deserve to exist, just as they are.

It's a damn pity the Christian right can't do that, huh?

Do you really believe this?: "Same deal with Terri Schiavo. Again, what was so oogedy about l’affaire Schiavo is not the abstract philosophical debate about “life.” It was that a group of frenzied social conservatives decided to intrude on the Schiavos' privacy, publicizing and overruling a private and wrenching family decision. Even worse, they actually convinced Congress – in the midst of two wars – to intervene."

I wish you could at least acknowledge there was complex moral and legal question. Husband, who benefits from wife's death and is ready to marry next wife, advocates removing life support (i.e., starvign her to death) over the wishes of her parents who were willing to agree to take care of her the remainder of her life and were convinced she has some cognitive abilities.

Do you really believe this?

Yes.

Next question?

Their being "convinced she ha[d] some cognitive abilities" was purely a matter of faith over scientific evidence...

More so,

I wish you could at least acknowledge there was complex moral and legal question.

I don't. The scientific evidence, which few social conservatives seemed to have considered, was clear.

It's funny, but economic conservatives feel the same way about liberals as liberals do about the socio-conservatives -- that you have to abandon the rationality of economics and cling to the god of "equality" and "redistributionism" to understand you guys. It's just a mindset thing, I guess.

that you have to abandon the rationality of economics and cling to the god of "equality" and "redistributionism" to understand you guys

Not really.

Economic conservatives believe in redistribution as well, just different recipients of the redistributed funds.

And liberals, for the most part, have embraced the free market - they just seek to harness its potential by regulating its potential negative manifestations.

Busting monopolies, preventing insider trading and unfair market practices, etc.

Equality is not a God, but when faced with the bleak disparaties present in the 1920s and 1930s, liberals thought that some safety netting was called for to soften some of the harder edges. This mission continues today.

But I know of no liberal economist that thinks that all levels of income and wealth should be equal.

Do you?

And more to the point, liberal economists base their arguments on empirical models and data - hard evidence.

They are right at times, and wrong at others, but their arguments are not faith based.

It's also worth noting that pretty much all economists, even very conservative ones, are in some senses economically to the 'left' of much of the Republican party.

It's easy to find economists who believe taxes create deadweight losses substantial enough to create growth by cutting taxes, for instance. But it's incredibly difficult to find economists not working for a blatantly partisan think tank who believe that cutting taxes - especially income taxes - *raises* revenue at taxation levels like the United States' (or even Europe).

And it was economists who were definitely in favor of the free market who really invented the theory of "market failure".

At the risk of oversimplifying:

Some folks aren't satisfied with being free to like what they like. They aren't happy unless everybody likes what they like.

On the question of what specifically creeps out people about the religious right, I think there's an interesting contrast between liberals' reactions to Mike Huckerbee and Sarah Palin. I don't get the impression that Huckerbee had anything like the same horror factor as Sarah Palin, though I'm not sure there's much difference in their religious views. Is it the particular combination of Christianist views, authoritarianism and wiful ignorance that is the most toxic mix? (God told me to do this to you, and I cannot persuaded by any evidence to the contrary)? Are US liberals more creeped out by non-religious right authoritarians like Romney and Giuliani or someone like Huckabee?

Hilzoy-

Well, as you know, I strongly oppose ESCR on moral grounds. Nevertheless, what bothers me is the unwillingness of so many liberals to even attempt to address the moral concerns raised by ESCR, or to attempt to find common ground on this issue. All of the advancements in stem cell reserach have, thus far, been done without destroying embryos. Why not fund this research first?

And liberals, for the most part, have embraced the free market

Embraced, I think is a strong word. I tend to think of liberals and capitalism like I do conservatives and the Commerce Clause. We despise the “evolution” of the CC, but there’s damn little we can do about it, so we play ball within the framework.

I agree with much of what you said, Eric, but I cannot characterize it as you do. As Christian conservatives have accepted their moral code (homosexuality is a sin, abortion is wrong, etc.), so have the liberals built their economic philosophy around their own moral code ("social safety nets," wealth distribution). Move beyond Keynes and Rawls to the lay-liberal, and you reach a mindset that the rich are greedy cheaters who have not earned their money and it should be forcibly taken from them by the state and given to the virtuous poor.

Economic conservatives remove the morality from the equation and seek to maximize wealth production based on the simple exchange model. Take the Big 3 bailout. I've heard liberals saying we have to do it to protect the workers ("moral mandate"), but its clear that in free market terms, propping up the bad only delays the inevitable and siphons off billions of dollar in private investment that could be put to more productive use and future growth. Sure, Mr. Autoworker gets his job for a couple more years, but his grandkids are going to end up with a sizeable debt from his bailout, and they're going to have less economic opportunities because his industry tied up the funds that may have led to the cure for cancer, etc.

As for the rest, most problems in the Market were caused by other monkeying with the Market. I also can't believe that the monopoly boogeyman still has legs in the modern, diverse economy, but what can you do?

And liberals, for the most part, have embraced the free market

Embraced, I think is a strong word. I tend to think of liberals and capitalism like I do conservatives and the Commerce Clause. We despise the “evolution” of the CC, but there’s damn little we can do about it, so we play ball within the framework.

I agree with much of what you said, Eric, but I cannot characterize it as you do. As Christian conservatives have accepted their moral code (homosexuality is a sin, abortion is wrong, etc.), so have the liberals built their economic philosophy around their own moral code ("social safety nets," wealth distribution). Move beyond Keynes and Rawls to the lay-liberal, and you reach a mindset that the rich are greedy cheaters who have not earned their money and it should be forcibly taken from them by the state and given to the virtuous poor.

Economic conservatives remove the morality from the equation

indeed they do.

and it makes people like me wonder if conservatives think people exist to serve the market or the other way around...


Equality is not a God, but when faced with the bleak disparaties present in the 1920s and 1930s, liberals thought that some safety netting was called for to soften some of the harder edges. This mission continues today.

Perhaps it is worth repeating that redistributionist policies such as the progressive income tax which today are called liberal and which some economic conservatives regard as economically irrational were (at least here in the US) originally put in place during the early 20th Cen. in order to head off the possibility of anti-capitalist revolutionary agitation and violence aroused by the stark inequalities of that era. Progressive policies were intended to help save capitalism by taming its worst excesses, not to bury it. Andrew Mellon for example was hardly a raving red, yet he advocating taxing investment income at a higher rate than wages.

Back in Adam Smith’s day what we today call “economics” went by the name of “political economy”, in recognition of the fact that all the choices we can make regarding how to structure and regulate our economic life (including the non-choice of doing nothing) are inherently political. One of the persistent fictions of the present day which has been successfully marketed by the right is the false dichotomy between politics and economics, claiming that the latter is an entirely separate and distinct and politically neutral subject, and that economics is only politicized when the left tries to stick its grubby sweaty paws into the cookie jar. This viewpoint ignores the problem that a functioning polity is a necessary precondition for all but the most primitive forms of economic activity, so actions which have both economic and political consequences (e.g. such as making policy choices regarding things like taxation and regulation) need to be evaluated in totality rather than just using one side of the scales, before we can evaluate their merits in a constructive and purposeful manner.

At the risk of oversimplifying:

Some folks aren't satisfied with being free to like what they like. They aren't happy unless everybody likes what they like.

Please, nothing so hedonistic. It's not about what they like, it's only about what God likes.

SNOW!!!

sorry. just wanted to share.

Economic conservatives remove the morality from the equation and seek to maximize wealth production based on the simple exchange model.

Oh, and "maximizing wealth production" is scientifically proven as the right thing to do, rather than being ultimately just another article of faith?

Or, maybe I should just say: What ThatLeftTurn said, as always much more knowledgeably and less snarkily than I could say anything about this subject.

Take the Big 3 bailout.

Why not take the investment bank bailout?

I also can't believe that the monopoly boogeyman still has legs in the modern, diverse economy, but what can you do?

What do you mean by "boogeyman"? Are you suggesting that this was never a problem?

My point was that antitrust legislation did a good thing in breaking up monopolies, and that it should stay in place.

Are you disagreeing with either of those statements, and if not, why shouldn't people oppose monopolies even in this wonderful diverse modern economy?

As Christian conservatives have accepted their moral code (homosexuality is a sin, abortion is wrong, etc.), so have the liberals built their economic philosophy around their own moral code ("social safety nets," wealth distribution)

Well, if you're saying that liberals saw a problem with the rampant starvation and dire squalor present in this country during the 1920s and 1930s, then, yes, that is true.

If you're saying that liberals cringed at a system that left so many seniors beyond viable working age starving in poverty and indignity during their last days, then yes, that is true.

Interestingly, one would imagine disciples of Christ would show a similar amount of compassion and charity.

The question those on the Christian Right have yet to answer coherently is why they "cherry pick" their favorite divine commandments. A great many social practices are either forbidden or mandated in Leviticus and elsewhere in the Pentateuch, so "the Lord said to Moses." Most of these strictures have been quietly abandoned over the centuries, but boy do the Christian Right clings to this particular one (Leviticus 20:13). Has any prominent Christian conservative explained why this is not hypocritical? Until one does I must assume, in the spirit of William of Ockham, that homophobia is the true explanation.

While it's nice to say that the ideal solution is for all adults to be allowed to make their own decisions so long as they do no harm to others, this misses the point. No liberal that I know disagrees with that basic principle, although some of the nanny-staters bend it without any apparent awareness of the hypocrisy.

The point is that the Christianists--by which I mean the Religious Right, the segment of America that distorts and exploits their religion for the sake of imposing it on others--do not want people to be free to make their own decisions, if those decisions run contrary to their narrow vision of Christianity.

You can argue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness until you're blue in the face, but it will not change the fundamental fact that people like this do not believe in an America where sinners are free to sin. To the extent that they are able to use the mechanisms of law and government to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of the country, they will do so unless stopped.

Now, it's important to note that not all social conservatives are part of the Religious Right. Some are content to teach what they teach to those who will listen, and while I disagree with their choice to inflict their psychological poison on their children, I recognize that they have as much right to raise their families as they see fit as I think a gay couple has to raise their families.

I'm speaking of the uncomfortably large--but by no means majority--segment of the country whose political will is directed towards taking away the rights of others instead of expanding freedoms, and remaking the United States in the image of their narrow, judgmental, hateful version of Christianity.

These people are an enemy to liberty, and their hateful agenda has no more place in a free society than the Klan's.

Dear "Now I try to be amused."
Of course, you oversimplify. Must be nice to have such pat answers for all life's controversies.

Gay Marriage: Seems to me that gays in California were free to "like what they like" but wanted to make everyone else "like what they liked" by forcing them, under threat of law, to recognize "what they liked" as marriage--something always understood to mean the legal union of man and woman. When the majority of California voters (hardly bible thumpers and flat-earthers) refused to "like what they liked"--things got ugly.

Abortion: If there were no "interested third parties", abortion would be no issue. But the unborn child may not "like what mom likes" if that "like" results in his limb-by-limb destruction.

Euthanasia: Have you no fear for the slippery slope created when family members can make grandpa "like what we like" even though it means his legalized murder.

Please, try thinking before you post this stuff.

"Andrew Mellon for example was hardly a raving red, yet he advocating taxing investment income at a higher rate than wages."

And Carnegie was a strong proponent of an estate tax, albeit giving somewhat different reasons than most modern defenders.

"and you reach a mindset that the rich are greedy cheaters who have not earned their money and it should be forcibly taken from them by the state and given to the virtuous poor."

Surely there are folks who have this mindset. (Just as there are rich folks who are greeedy cheaters that haven't 'earned' their money). But generally . . .nah.

" Nevertheless, what bothers me is the unwillingness of so many liberals to even attempt to address the moral concerns raised by ESCR"

But this gets back to the no-common-ground/shared standards issue. Presumably most of us who hold support embryonic stem cell research simply don't see blastocysts as human persons, nor their utilization in research as a moral issue (or rather, that they see it as a moral issue in the sense that seeking to prevent suffering, illness and death (within ethical boundaries) is itself a moral act). The ability to address those specific concerns - beyond a illuminating exchange of 'no they're not/yes they are/rinse/repeat - is going to be somewhat limited. Indeed, given that reality, scientists, ethicists, and policymakers had provided a really rather reasonable framework which went about as far as one can go to address such concerns while still carrying out such research - using embryos created for IVF and to be discarded, and only with the permission of donors; hence ensuring that human embryos wouldn't be created solely for experimentation (something I find worrisome also on slippery slope grounds), and that people uncomfortable with the issue wouldn't have to worry about what was happening to their surplus embryos. When you look at it, any failure to reach for common ground perhaps isn't a liberal problem . . . (and of course there are many conservatives who matter of factly support such research).

Bush's 'existing stem cell lines' thing could have been a common-grounder, except for the not really being true bit. Oh well.

"I am not a pollster, so I have no idea exactly how well it would fly, but I think if both sides would agree to that,"

A lot of the right-wing political preachers have been known to preach about how a sinful society brings God's wrath. Things like this:

[...] JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

JERRY FALWELL: Amen. Pat, did you notice yesterday? The ACLU, and all the Christ-haters, the People For the American Way, NOW, etc. were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress as they went out on the steps and called out on to God in prayer and sang 'God Bless America' and said 'let the ACLU be hanged'. In other words, when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time- calling upon God.

This doesn't seem to particularly be a spirit of "live and let live."

Have you no fear for the slippery slope created when family members can make grandpa "like what we like" even though it means his legalized murder.

Not if you don't endorse several rungs down the slippery slope.

Doesn't euthanasia require action by the person to be euthanized?

Are you suggesting that allowing people to control their own fates in such a manner will lead to a legal system that recognizes the rights of family members to euthanize other family members against the will of the euthanized?

That seems like a slope to steep to me.

Seems to me that gays in California were free to "like what they like" but wanted to make everyone else "like what they liked" by forcing them, under threat of law, to recognize "what they liked" as marriage

This is all kinds of wrong. The gay marriage provisions in California did not require that anyone "like" gay marriage. It was silent on enforcing or requiring affirmations of the likability of gay marriage.

It merely established legal recognition of gay marriage. Not the liking thereof.

By your standard, black and white heterosexual couples pre-Loving were free to like what they liked, but then wanted everyone else to like what they liked by pushing for legal recognition of their marriages.

And that was an imposition on the liking prerogatives of others.

When the majority of California voters (hardly bible thumpers and flat-earthers) refused to "like what they liked"--things got ugly.

Things got "ugly"? What the hell are you talking about?

Thanks -

Please, try thinking before you post this stuff.

Physicial, heal thyself.

Posted by: The Last Conservative

We should be so lucky, if irrational poison like this is representative.

"... over the wishes of her parents who were willing to agree to take care of her the remainder of her life and were convinced she has some cognitive abilities."

That they were "convinced" doesn't matter, given that there was no factual basis for such a belief. People who are "convinced" the sun revolves around the earth shouldn't be catered to, either, no matter how sincere. Facts are facts.

"But the unborn child may not 'like what mom likes' if that 'like' results in his limb-by-limb destruction."

There has to be sufficient brain function for a being to "like" anything.

"so have the liberals built their economic philosophy around their own moral code ("social safety nets," wealth distribution)"

As Eric touches upon, oddly enough this moral code seems to be rather close to that arguably promoted by Jesus in the Gospels. Not necessarily uniquely so, but . . .

"Gay Marriage: Seems to me that gays in California were free to "like what they like" but wanted to make everyone else "like what they liked" by forcing them, under threat of law"

Not really - gay people were formerly not allowed to be legally married (hence not free "to like what they like"); nor did legalizing gay marriage force anybody to "like what they liked", any more than Loving v. Virginia forced anyone to "like" interracial marriage; rather, it was and is an issue of equality under the law. Now, thanks to a small majority of voters, many of whom may have been badly mislead as to what marriage equality meant (your priest could be forced to do perform gay marriage!!), gay people in CA are once again not free "to like what they like".

"But the unborn child may not "like what mom likes" if that "like" results in his limb-by-limb destruction."

Fetuses do not seem to have cognitive, conscious "likes" and "dislikes", any more than than they can write poems and such of the sort that appear in anti-choice literature, in which they are the speaker.

And thanks to the IDX ban Congress passed (to not reinforce that misleading and medically meaningless term), most later-term abortions probably have to be done in a way that results in the fetus' (his?! - now that's bizarre) literal limb-by-limb destruction, as that act doesn't actually ban later-term abortions, but rather forbids doctors to choose that specific method, even if it's the most appropriate and least risky to the woman involved.

"Euthanasia: Have you no fear for the slippery slope created when family members can make grandpa "like what we like" even though it means his legalized murder."

Which is why you would have very strong and severe requirements to ensure that the person seeking euthanasia is not subject to any coercion, and is meaningfully able to make such a decision. I agree it's a worrisome thing. But I've also watched people I know die, slowly, excruciatingly, unstoppably, with no hope of getting better, only more and worse agony until stupid death finally shuffles by. So.

As a social conservative who has read a few books, I find it very tiresome that some left-wing secularists constantly whine about fundamentalists and never engage with the more intellectual forms of the Christian tradition, past and present.

Leftists' easy lapse into armchair psychoanalysis of religious belief prevents any such engagement.

Since there are many Christians here in the US, you're going to find that they are less educated than the often self-selecting pockets of elite secularism. This disparity in population also encourages in these pockets ochlophobia, the fear of the mob.

There's also a real double standard among those who criticize Mormons and traditional Christians on secularist grounds but accept the support of liberal Protestants. Unitarians, Episcopalians, and several other religious groups opposed Prop. 8. Some of these groups also have same-sex weddings and cite theological grounds for their pro-gay positions. Why not rebuke them for violating church-state separation out of religious concerns? Because they have adopted as their creed vacuous egalitarian rhetoric?

There are comments here rightly acknowledging that America's ruling ethos was once nearly unanimously socially conservative, at least in public. Granted this, is it not clear that for those who retain that ethos, social liberalism is a usurpation?

Churchgoing Catholics were once one of the most reliable Democratic constituencies. Now many think licentiousness has replaced liberalism. These folk, too, feel usurped

Gay rights activists' anti-discrimination laws have driven Catholics out of the adoption business in Massachusetts. Do you realize how perverse this looks, especially to the descendants of orphans once cared for by such agencies?

"What's next?" we ask ourselves, and worry.

People who object to closing adoption agencies are now ridiculed as bigots. There's that armchair psychoanalysis again, now carrying an anti-discrimination lawsuit. This change makes all those who lectured us about "tolerance" look like self-serving devotees of Marcuse's "Repressive Tolerance."

Social cons do scare me.

I don't want to tell a Southern Baptist relative that they can't live the way they want, or worship in their churches.

BUT..I do not want them to tell me that I don't get to live the way I want...a female priest at my Episocpalian Church. The SBC has regressed on that issue..women are to be submissive now..no preaching!

My Catholic side does not get to tell me that I should not use birth control or that I can not have access to it because some pharmacist doesn't like the idea of my prescription.

No side should be able to try to teach my kids that the science they need to learn to go to college should be diluted because they don't like evolution.

And no social con should fuss about who marrys who or tell me that my marriage in the county courthouse is not a "real" marriage. They don't own the word, never have...and they shouldn't get to define it to their narrow world view.


What everyone else said, too.

"As a social conservative who has read a few books, I find it very tiresome that some left-wing secularists constantly whine about fundamentalists and never engage with the more intellectual forms of the Christian tradition, past and present."

And yet others do. Problem solved!

"There are comments here rightly acknowledging that America's ruling ethos was once nearly unanimously socially conservative, at least in public. Granted this, is it not clear that for those who retain that ethos, social liberalism is a usurpation?"

This argument applies equally well to slavery, does it not?

"Now many think licentiousness has replaced liberalism."

What's wrong with licentiousness that isn't tautological?

"Do you realize how perverse this looks, especially to the descendants of orphans once cared for by such agencies?"

Do you realize how perverse it looks to prevent kids from being adopted by loving parents?

There's also a real double standard among those who criticize Mormons and traditional Christians on secularist grounds but accept the support of liberal Protestants.

There is no double standard if you're judging on secular grounds.

I think you're very confused here.

Are you asserting that people should only vote/lobby based a certain common set of values which we call "the American heritage", and check the rest of their principles at the door?

No. I am saying that we all, as Americans, ascribe to, or at least pay nominal lip service to the ideas laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Therefore, if we all agree that each individual has a right to pursue happiness, does it not follow that, as no two individuals are exactly the same, my pursuit of happiness will look very different from your pursuit of happiness.

Or more bluntly, one may seek happiness being a quiet traditional religious man/woman or he may throw religion to the wind, install a revolving door and have a line of women come in and out of his bedroom, while his neighbor might seek happiness by doing the same, but with other men or try to settle down with one man and build a family of his own.

And isn't that pretty much what everyone is shooting for with the idea of tolerance? We don't have to like everything about each other, we just have to respect one another as fellow Americans and human beings, to leave each other alone and get along?

Granted this, is it not clear that for those who retain that ethos, social liberalism is a usurpation?

Yes, I'm sure it is. The world is not the same as it was 10, or 20, or 50 years ago. If the world back then was to your liking, I'm sure it's very upsetting that it is changing.

I have my own list of things I miss.

Here is the problem. The only way we can make the world be the way you would like it is by taking things away from people who aren't like you.

You don't like gay marriage. But you, assuming you are not gay, can get married. Gays, in most places cannot.

The only way to serve your preferences is to continue to take marriage away from gay people.

You think abortion is wrong. But nobody, anywhere, is saying that you have to get an abortion.

And the only way to make the world be the way you want it is to take the choice of abortion away from everyone else.

I think this pattern holds true for most conservative / liberal differences on social policy. If conservatives win the day, nobody will be able to do the things that conservatives disapprove of. If liberals win the day, some folks will be able to do things that conservatives disapprove of.

But no conservatives will be forced to do anything they don't approve of, nor will they be deprived of anything they do want.

With the single exception of living in a world that is arranged exactly the way they like it.

I'm sorry that's so, but I can't see that as a really good argument for taking options and privileges away from other people.

You might make some headway by trying to convince other folks that your way of seeing things is actually better. Statements like this:

Leftists' easy lapse into armchair psychoanalysis of religious belief prevents any such engagement.

and this:

Because they have adopted as their creed vacuous egalitarian rhetoric?

are not going to get that done.

"What's next?" we ask ourselves, and worry.

Yeah, well, you and everybody else.

Thanks -

Gay rights activists' anti-discrimination laws have driven Catholics out of the adoption business in Massachusetts. Do you realize how perverse this looks, especially to the descendants of orphans once cared for by such agencies?

Emancipation drove Southern plantation owners out of business by removing their source of cheap labor. This seemed very perverse indeed to families who had produced a vital consumer product for the nation and built generations of prosperity on the backs of their slaves. How selfish of them to insist that they not be discriminated against based on who and what they were!

Or... perhaps not.

"As a social conservative who has read a few books, I find it very tiresome that some left-wing secularists constantly whine about fundamentalists and never engage with the more intellectual forms of the Christian tradition, past and present."

Of course, these forms have rather limited influence on American politics and culture,

" Some of these groups also have same-sex weddings and cite theological grounds for their pro-gay positions. Why not rebuke them for violating church-state separation out of religious concerns? "

Having same sex weddings isn't violating church/state separation. If they cite theological grounds for their positions as private convictions, or theological justifications - for their religious beliefs - than that's not either. If they're citing theological grounds as public requirements, that's a different matter. Are they?

"People who object to closing adoption agencies are now ridiculed as bigots. "

Actually, most of the people running Catholic Charities of Boston were strongly opposed to cutting orphans' noses to spite some gay people's faces, but the hierarchy forced them too. (Jes? You there?)

I'll take that one, Dan S. You are perfectly correct--the adoption arm of Catholic charities had been placing children with gay foster parents for years and wished to continue to serve their orphan population by placing them with loving families both gay and straight. Since they were *legally a subcontractor* to the state and thus to all the taxpaying gay and straight citizens of our commonwealth they also knew they couldn't keep taking taxpayer money and discriminating against taxpayers in placing children. When the catholic church hierarchy *over the objections* of the adoption professionals and the board insisted that the church would continue to take money while spitting in the face of potential parents and the law the board pretty much resigned en masse.

Its important to remember that not only are there gay parents at issue but there are, of course, gay *children*. We didn't get to the stage where the catholic church, in its infinite mercy, refused to place a gay child for adoption but we were certainly on a collision course for that.

As for the marvellous quote dan s posted


"people who object to closing adoption agencies are now ridiculted as bigots"

I'd say one thing "freedom of religion" doesn't get you is the freedom for people not to point and laugh when you continually demonstrate your intention to *be a bigot.*

This gets back to the authoritarian personalities issue raised upthread. One of the scariest things about equal marriage in Ma, for the bigots (among whom I include my beloved sister in law, btw) was that they would no longer have a firm monopoly on "being right." She wasn't afraid of gay families in her church--she knew some and liked them--but she wasn't ready for them to be other than second class citizens. And she was afraid that she would no longer have the social power to exclude and shame them and that if she vented her feelings of anger and disgust the rest of her community wouldn't support her. Over and over again, if you listen, the real homophobes complain that the worst thing about gay marriage is not all the gay sex, or even the happy gay people, its losing the right to be rude and cruel to strangers and use their sexuality as an excuse. and you lose that right (and they are right about this) when the rest of society, including your neighbors, friends, and relatives, say "what are you making all this fuss about? who cares whether its adam and steve for g-d's sake?"

aimai

I'll take that one, Dan S. You are perfectly correct--the adoption arm of Catholic charities had been placing children with gay foster parents for years and wished to continue to serve their orphan population by placing them with loving families both gay and straight. Since they were *legally a subcontractor* to the state and thus to all the taxpaying gay and straight citizens of our commonwealth they also knew they couldn't keep taking taxpayer money and discriminating against taxpayers in placing children. When the catholic church hierarchy *over the objections* of the adoption professionals and the board insisted that the church would continue to take money while spitting in the face of potential parents and the law the board pretty much resigned en masse.

Its important to remember that not only are there gay parents at issue but there are, of course, gay *children*. We didn't get to the stage where the catholic church, in its infinite mercy, refused to place a gay child for adoption but we were certainly on a collision course for that.

As for the marvellous quote dan s posted


"people who object to closing adoption agencies are now ridiculted as bigots"

I'd say one thing "freedom of religion" doesn't get you is the freedom for people not to point and laugh when you continually demonstrate your intention to *be a bigot.*

This gets back to the authoritarian personalities issue raised upthread. One of the scariest things about equal marriage in Ma, for the bigots (among whom I include my beloved sister in law, btw) was that they would no longer have a firm monopoly on "being right." She wasn't afraid of gay families in her church--she knew some and liked them--but she wasn't ready for them to be other than second class citizens. And she was afraid that she would no longer have the social power to exclude and shame them and that if she vented her feelings of anger and disgust the rest of her community wouldn't support her. Over and over again, if you listen, the real homophobes complain that the worst thing about gay marriage is not all the gay sex, or even the happy gay people, its losing the right to be rude and cruel to strangers and use their sexuality as an excuse. and you lose that right (and they are right about this) when the rest of society, including your neighbors, friends, and relatives, say "what are you making all this fuss about? who cares whether its adam and steve for g-d's sake?"

aimai

I'll take that one, Dan S. You are perfectly correct--the adoption arm of Catholic charities had been placing children with gay foster parents for years and wished to continue to serve their orphan population by placing them with loving families both gay and straight. Since they were *legally a subcontractor* to the state and thus to all the taxpaying gay and straight citizens of our commonwealth they also knew they couldn't keep taking taxpayer money and discriminating against taxpayers in placing children. When the catholic church hierarchy *over the objections* of the adoption professionals and the board insisted that the church would continue to take money while spitting in the face of potential parents and the law the board pretty much resigned en masse.

Its important to remember that not only are there gay parents at issue but there are, of course, gay *children*. We didn't get to the stage where the catholic church, in its infinite mercy, refused to place a gay child for adoption but we were certainly on a collision course for that.

As for the marvellous quote dan s posted


"people who object to closing adoption agencies are now ridiculted as bigots"

I'd say one thing "freedom of religion" doesn't get you is the freedom for people not to point and laugh when you continually demonstrate your intention to *be a bigot.*

This gets back to the authoritarian personalities issue raised upthread. One of the scariest things about equal marriage in Ma, for the bigots (among whom I include my beloved sister in law, btw) was that they would no longer have a firm monopoly on "being right." She wasn't afraid of gay families in her church--she knew some and liked them--but she wasn't ready for them to be other than second class citizens. And she was afraid that she would no longer have the social power to exclude and shame them and that if she vented her feelings of anger and disgust the rest of her community wouldn't support her. Over and over again, if you listen, the real homophobes complain that the worst thing about gay marriage is not all the gay sex, or even the happy gay people, its losing the right to be rude and cruel to strangers and use their sexuality as an excuse. and you lose that right (and they are right about this) when the rest of society, including your neighbors, friends, and relatives, say "what are you making all this fuss about? who cares whether its adam and steve for g-d's sake?"

aimai

Feddie: "All of the advancements in stem cell reserach have, thus far, been done without destroying embryos. Why not fund this research first?"

Well, we haven't got an AIDS vaccine yet. Why not wait until we've cured cancer before proceeding further?

Oh, right: we can fund both at once.

(Plus, it's not true that "all the advancements" have been in adult stem cells. All the cures so far used in humans, yes. All the advances, no. I would not have expected there to be cures in humans yet, even without the roadblocks, given how recently ES cells were discovered.)

"There are comments here rightly acknowledging that America's ruling ethos was once nearly unanimously socially conservative, at least in public. Granted this, is it not clear that for those who retain that ethos, social liberalism is a usurpation?"

This argument applies equally well to slavery, does it not?

Dang, Gary beat me to it!

I would really like to see how Kevin Jones answers this. I don't understand how "prevailing ethos" gets you anywhere in a moral argument.

Why not rebuke them for violating church-state separation out of religious concerns?

Because they aren't.

Could you be more specific about what you mean by "church-state separation"? I do not think it means what you think it means.

""There are comments here rightly acknowledging that America's ruling ethos was once nearly unanimously socially conservative"

You got that right!

(yes, not quite fair, I know . . .)


But anyway, social conservatism can be, so to speak, a movable priest - today's social conservatism is (sometimes, some places) yesterday's avant-garde. A few decades from now, folks might be looking back in amazement at how in the bad old days people crowded animals into tiny cages, or whatever.

(or oppressed automated robots by putting up captchas to prevent them from commenting on blogs. Freedom of speech!)

" I do not think it means what you think it means.

Inconceivable!

" And she was afraid that she would no longer have the social power to exclude and shame them and that if she vented her feelings of anger and disgust the rest of her community wouldn't support her."

That is very, very interesting. I'm thinking about the yes on 8 ad that has the little girl who comes home from school after learning about gay marriage, and this seems like one reason (among others) it may have been quite effective.

I wish you could at least acknowledge there was complex moral and legal question. Husband, who benefits from wife's death and is ready to marry next wife, advocates removing life support (i.e., starvign her to death) over the wishes of her parents who were willing to agree to take care of her the remainder of her life and were convinced she has some cognitive abilities.

1) She had been in a coma for years and years and, like most people in that situation, he eventually moved on and met someone new and wanted to be with them fully. It's not like he had some mistress and started trying to pull the plug and marry her right after his wife was out of the way. Frankly, you need to stop listening to liars who were trying to slander him.

I am saying that we all, as Americans, ascribe to, or at least pay nominal lip service to the ideas laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

We do? I'll buy the "nominal lip service" part, but only for people running for office.

If the remainder of your argument is correct, then Proposition 8 and its ilk would seem to indicate that a good chunk of the country does not, in fact, believe in the right to pursuit of happiness.

Either that, or their personal, ineffable, inarguable religious beliefs are stronger than their belief in that right.

"-do not want people to be free to make their own decisions, if those decisions run contrary to their narrow vision of Christianity."

Lakoff, in his little book On Freedom, argued iirc that for the religious right freedom meant not free to make their own decisions - that true freedom was following God's rules, and that not doing so was in fact being enslaved to desire, sin and Satan. You may think you're talking about the freedom for you to x, y, z or whatever (this train of thought goes), and complain that they're trying to take your freedom(s) away, but that's not real freedom, which only comes from obeying (very much Father) God. (and we're back to authoritarianism.)

And at a very abstract and de-deified level, it's not a concept I'm absolutely opposed to, up to a point (and I imagine it's quite meaningful and resonant for people struggling with various addictions or temptations) - in a sense, it's one of the reasons I'm not a libertarian - but always in conflict and balance as freedom as "doing stuff you like" (not to mention inappropriate for a secular state). Broccoli and candy. Otherwise, you never learn to deal with the presence of candy, and need an authority figure to say "No candy!", to tell you you'll be punished if you eat candy, and in fact to take the candy away and put it somewhere you can't get it.

[comment soundtrack: Sex and Candy]

And Altemeyer' & Hunsberger's book Atheists is quite an interesting read (although it's stressed throughout that it's very preliminary, etc.)

Denying marriage to same-sex couples is only unjust if marriage is by its nature not an institution that requires one man and one woman. On the other hand, denying marriage to same-sex couples is just if marriage is by nature an institution that requires one man and one woman. So, the issue of equal treatment cannot be answered until we answer the question that is doing all the work: what is marriage? But if that question has differing answers by citizens who are no less rational or informed than those with whom they disagree, then it is just the sort of thing that must be deliberated with respect and understanding.

Calling opponents of same-sex marriage "bigots" is itself a form of bigotry, for many supporters of traditional marriage believe what we believe because we are committed to an understanding of human beings and their nature that requires that we think of our fellow citizens as persons with intrinsic dignity. And this dignity requires the existence of institutions and ways of life--such as the family, church, synagogue, civic organizations, etc.--that are bullwarks against the hegemony of the state. For this reason, many of us find the attempt to change the nature of marriage by judicial fiat as a way for the state to take over another institution and define its parameters and limits without any regard for the common good. If, for example, marriage is whatever the state says it is, then marriage is not a pre-political institution. But if it is not a pre-political institution, then there is no "nature of marriage" by which we may test the state's definition. But if that is the case, then the "children" produced by these marriages are not the natural children of these "parents." They are, by default, the state's. This is what happens when one detaches marriage from any natural end.

There is much talk of reason and rationality on this blog, and yet I see very little of it practiced. But that, ironically, does not surprise me. For once one has abandoned the idea that human beings have natural ends as men and women, then why not extend that skepticism to intellectual virtue and charity toward others? If my gender has no complementary end that can only be consummated with a union with that whom is truly other, then why believe that minds, ideas, or words should have natural ends to which they should aim? And why even believe in "reason"? For reason presupposes an appropriate end to the human person. But if human persons have no appropriate natural end, then why are bigots bad?

At the end of the day, same-sex marriage advocates do not want to step into the arena of reasoned discourse. For it is much too easy to call your opponents' bigots and foment hatred and animus. To concede that your opponents may have a point cannot be done once the bigot card is played against them. If scorched earth is your only "argument," then you gave up on reason long ago.

Denying marriage to same-sex couples is only unjust if marriage is by its nature not an institution that requires one man and one woman.

Being ethnocentric, are we not?

Try a little cross cultural, historical comparison and come back after you do to rejoin the arena of reasoned discourse.

". For once one has abandoned the idea that human beings have natural ends as men and women, then why not extend that skepticism to intellectual virtue and charity toward others? If my gender has no complementary end that can only be consummated with a union with that whom is truly other, then why believe that minds, ideas, or words should have natural ends to which they should aim? And why even believe in "reason"?"

I blame Aristotle. To begin with.

Denying legal protection to victims of domestic violence is only unjust if marriage is by nature not an institution that requires men to firmly discipline their wives for the good of everyone.

Denying marriage to same-sex couples is only unjust if marriage is by its nature not an institution that requires one man and one woman.

"By its nature." As if it were something other than a concept dreamed up by humans, for humans, and immutable.

Calling opponents of same-sex marriage "bigots" is itself a form of bigotry,

Oh, brother. You would think that "I guess we see who the REAL bigots/racists/whatever are" is an argument that people would outgrow. You would be wrong.

And this dignity requires the existence of institutions and ways of life--such as the family, church, synagogue, civic organizations, etc.--that are bullwarks against the hegemony of the state.

Unless those families are composed partly or completely of homosexuals. Then it's absolutely OK for complete strangers to muck about in their business via the mechanism of the law. I mean, that's what you're defending here, right?

For this reason, many of us find the attempt to change the nature of marriage by judicial fiat

Again with this "the nature of marriage" folderol. Marriage is something humans made up. We can change what it is whenever we want.

For once one has abandoned the idea that human beings have natural ends as men and women, then why not extend that skepticism to intellectual virtue and charity toward others?

"Charity towards others?" This is fine talk coming from someone defending the idea that stripping California citizens of legal rights they enjoyed only a month ago is an OK thing to do.

- though Francis, you do provide interestingly and densely argued confirmation of previous comments about childmaking and gender roles. Still misunderstanding or denying the difference between religious and civil marriage, though.

"If my gender has no complementary end that can only be consummated with a union with that whom is truly other, then why believe that minds, ideas, or words should have natural ends to which they should aim?"

All this talk about comsumation and aiming at ends, I dunno . .

(What? Look, all the little fears are, with great care and skill, standing on each others' heads and pulling strings and such, managing to make a suit of logic's clothes walk around, sort of like the Nac Mac Feegle in A Hat Made of Sky - what else can one do besides laugh?

"For this reason, many of us find the attempt to change the nature of marriage by judicial fiat "

Are you all good with attempts to change the nature of marriage by legislative action? democratic initiatives? How about cultural change?

""By its nature." As if it were something other than a concept dreamed up by humans, for humans, and immutable."

Quite possibly Francis does perceive it as such; certainly many folks making this sort of argument do. Although I think you can just as well make an argument for marriage, by its nature, being an institution that properly requires one man and a number of young women, increased or replaced as the years pass. After all the asymmetry between gametes and reproduction - such that men can get any number of women pregnant, on a daily basis, for much of his life, while women can only get pregnant by a single man, at rather long intervals, within a fairly specific window.

(I should note that I think this argument isn't even bullpucky but he wriggling maggots that live in bullpucky; after all, all these arguments, pop evo pysch or papal encyclicals, ultimately make a mockery of any concern for human dignity, and in fact are deeply anti-human . . .but I'm about to go off on a rant about Humanae Vitae and JPII's Theology of the Body, and it just gets so tiring having to keep cleaning the spittle off the screen. Maybe if I get little window wipers?

Dan S. -- thanks for yours at 9:59.

My laugh of the day. ;)

For once one has abandoned the idea that human beings have natural ends as men and women, then why not extend that skepticism to intellectual virtue and charity toward others?

For once one has abandoned the idea that wool and linen must not be mixed in the same garment, then why not extend that skepticism to giving children ice cream and not kicking puppies?

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