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April 27, 2009

Comments

"I suggest that Sebastian is only claiming to be gay to avoid a charge of homophobia. Because his lack of reasoning on this issue does not flow from living as a gay person in this country. Or else they tortured him in some ex-gay re-education camp until he was so miserable that now he can't stand to see other gay people living happily"

I wish you had told that to the gay bashers who chased me down the streets in Hillcrest when I was coming home from a bar about ten years ago. I would have felt much safer.

A commitment to the rule of law sometimes means that you don't get exactly what you want when you want it. But it has other benefits.

As for seeing other gay people living happily, I love it. I get teary eyed at every marriage at commitment ceremony, and one of my favorite things is hearing couples who have been in love with each other a long time talk about their history together.

Sebastian: I’m making no parallel whatsoever between the practice of torture and the practice of gay marriage.

Indeed you are, and as I noted earlier in the thread, I know where you got this from. The social conservative meme of dragging up "torture" and "gay marriage" in the same breath are an attempt to throw the two together as if they were same thing.

You know where I got this from? What does that even mean? Is there some Rush talking point on it?

The point I'm making is one of the same points I've been making for the entire history of this blog: that it isn't legitimate to abandon the proper political process just because you think you are right on the merits. Pretty much everyone thinks they are right on the merits, and the whole point of the political process is to let people hash that out. Trying to avoid the process just because you think you are right, isn’t the rule of law. The reason the rule of law exists is to legitimate the decision-making process. The reason minority protections continue in rule-of-law states is because the majority buys into the overall rule-making system. Undermining the rule of law hurts the trust in the system, and undermines the ultimate effectiveness of minority protections by causing the majority to think the the system’s decision making process isn’t worth it. I have always argued this, and I'm pretty sure that Rush never has.

You may think that your fellow Republicans will show you more respect if you mouth these kind of attacks on your own civil rights - your own sexual orientation - but is being "respected" as a sensible gay man - the kind who wants full equality only when the nice straight people are willing to let him have it, the kind who won't cause any trouble if you let him into the straight boys' club - really, really worth it?

Huh? I’m pretty much done with the Republican party as it is currently constituted, and at the moment I’m not in the mood to try to reconstitute it into something else either. And furthermore there aren’t many Republicans around here anyway. So I have no idea why you think this is better than actually engaging my argument.

Except, of course, that there seems to be an enormous overlap of sets: the same people who think torture's not so bad when the US does it, are often the same people who think abortion should be illegal, and who think same-sex couples shouldn't be allowed to marry. That's the company you're keeping, Sebastian...

First it isn’t the company I keep. I support gay marriage. I just don’t support illegitimate means to get everything I want. Would you support killing millions of children in Africa in a trade to get gay marriage legalized? Of course not, because you value things other than gay marriage. One of the things that I value, and that I think other people should see value in, is the rule of law. One of the reasons I value it is because I think that minority protections are safer when there is a wide-spread respect for the rule of law. Second, you are confusing means and ends constantly in this conversation. And in doing so you are illustrating exactly what I mean about the torture memos.

Contra to what you and Lady Vetinari think, most people do things because they think they are right. And the argument for why someone would think torture might be the right decision under certain circumstances is apparently pretty convincing to just under a majority of people in the US.

Yes your righteousness on the torture issue is apparent. Yes your righteousness on gay marriage is apparent. But some people are just as convinced of the righteousness of their positions. On the torture case you happen to be in a narrow majority. On the gay marriage case you happen to be in a narrow minority. And guess what? We have a political system to deal with strongly held opposing beliefs. On the gay marriage position, you and publius say “Screw the political process (which won’t get me what I know is right), I’m so darned right that it doesn’t matter”. That is EXACTLY the position of the Bush Administration on torture. “Screw the political process (which won’t get me what I know is right), I’m so darned right that it doesn’t matter”.

Now I think that you really can get away with that quite a few times before trust in the rule of law collapses. But I don’t think that goes on forever. Using it as a major tool to get what you want isn’t good in the long run any more than living off twinkies as your main food source is good in the long run even if you can get away with it for a while.

Thank you, Brett, for making it so very clear to Sebastian where he's chosen to take his stand.

I missed Sebastian's long comment when I posted mine. I know that's hard to believe - but I swear: Typepad seemed to have eated several comments, not just the one I responded to.

Sebastian, for a lawyer, you really don't seem to have a clear idea that the rule of law includes the right to go to court and see justice done you. (Von seemed to think that, too, which makes me wonder: what kind of lawyers are you, either of you, that you don't see the judiciary as a necessary part of the rule of law?)

Nor do you seem to realize that the US's legal system is common law. Under a common law system, the legislature writes the laws, the judges interpret them, and a decision made by a judge until overturned by due process (which could include a decision by a higher court, or new legislation) is the law of the land.

It's slightly weird, isn't it, that neither you nor Von seem to get this. Perhaps it's your obsession with Roe vs. Wade, your refusal to believe that judges had a right to make common law.

One of the reasons I value it is because I think that minority protections are safer when there is a wide-spread respect for the rule of law.

But you are arguing that the minority should not have the right to resort to their best protection under a legislative system: the courts. Your notion that minorities are "safer" if they can't use the judiciary system to get their legal rights is just pure nonsense.

I seriously can't deal with your repeated assertion that torture and gay marriage are just the same kind of moral decision as each other.

First it isn’t the company I keep.

Wait, did you make this comment after mine? *stares at Typepad*

Well, never mind. Your persistent assertions that torture and gay marriage can be lumped together, that minorities shouldn't be able to access the courts to get equal rights - those put you right into the middle of your chosen company, the social conservatives of the Republican Party and Sebastian, while that company may tolerate you - a nice fawning gay man who won't cause trouble but will wait nicely to be given what the majority decide will be good for him to have - they are not your friends, and they are not on your side, and it genuinely worries me to see you there clinging to them as if you thought they were a life-raft instead of a stone.

I suggest that Sebastian is only claiming to be gay to avoid a charge of homophobia

I suggest that someone hasn't been paying attention.

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