I'm always right! But you're a bigot!

Sean Kinsell offers another example of something in short supply these days -- a thoughtful post about same sex marriage, in the context of Maggie Gallagher's guest blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy.

For those who don't want to read through this very lengthy debate in its entirety, Sean (via Michael Demmons) links to a post by Jason Kuznicki which summarizes what he considers Gallagher's key points.

Something about the way this issue is debated disturbs me enough (see this post) that I left the following comment:

There seems to be a real, almost obsessive need to "prove" that opposition to same sex marriage constitutes bigotry. I don't think this is the wisest way to argue anything, and I find myself wondering whether Maggie Gallagher is playing the role of a sort of political tar baby. The harsher the attacks against her, the more insecure her opponents look. (Not that ideologues would care...)
I think this "if you disagree with me, you're a bigot" meme has gotten really, really tired. The problem is, the more time people spend talking only with each other and not with people they disagree with, the more likely they are to be convinced that not only are they right, but that their opponents are more than wrong; they are evil, bigoted, and analogous to Nazis.

A commenter at Gay Orbit made the following remarks:

Did you miss the post where Volokh said that gays “recruit” straight people to become gay.
Well, I don't know whether he meant this post, but I did blog about it, and I thought Eugene Volokh was trying to raise some honest concerns on his mind. Isn't that what we want?

Did you miss the post where Volokh said that we’re all disease-ridden vermin?
Actually, I did miss that one. I searched carefully for it, too. Might he mean this post?
Some readers challenged my claim that there is "disproportionate and grave health danger from male homosexual activity" to men, compared to the danger from male heterosexual activity. I think this danger is tragic, and I very much hope that medical advances will lead to the danger's decreasing. All decent people should agree that it's tragic. (The bunk that we hear from some quarters about AIDS being God's punishment for homosexuality would suggest, as some wit put it, that lesbians must be God's chosen people, since their rates are apparently very low.) But it seems to me quite clear that this danger is very much there.
I doubt it that could be it. The "disease-ridden vermin" part just doesn't stand out. I don't know whether this commenter is trying to put words into Eugene Volokh's mouth (I never like it when people do it to me). But in light of his confession yesterday, I don't think he'll be effectively cowed:
OK, though, I confess: I am developing an ulterior motive in writing about this stuff. The more people tell me not to write about things that strike me as important and perfectly legitimate to write about, the more I'm tempted to write about them. If people are trying to cow others into not discussing this information, then it's all the more important that we remain uncowed.
Professor Volokh is absolutely right, folks. If opinions can't be freely discussed in the blogosphere, where can they be discussed?

Back to the commenter, who is also upset about Clayton Cramer:

Did you miss former guest-blogger, and noted homophobic bigot Clayton Cramer?
I have repeatedly, even vehemently disagreed with Clayton Cramer (especially over sodomy laws), but have found him to be a gentleman. Plenty of people support sodomy laws out of a belief (in my view a misguided one) that "sodomy"(a misnomer) is harmful so people should be prevented from harming themselves. I think honest debate over these issues is infinitely preferable to name calling, and I'd offer the drug law debate as a less inflammatory example. The idea of imprisoning people for consensual malum prohibitum conduct offends every principle in which I believe. But calling someone a "bigot" for disagreeing with me would be the ultimate cop out. Not only would I miss an opportunity to advance my argument, I'd actually be harming it. But this point is lost on ideologues, who think opponents deserve a sound scolding, if not something worse.

While I necessarily don't share his convictions (the right to wave a marriage certificate has never struck me as going to the essence of American freedom), I rather enjoyed Jason Kuznicki's take on bigotry:

One judges bigotry not by whether a position is popular or unpopular, progressive or conservative, but by whether the person holding that position is willing to engage with their opponents, to consider the issue from all different sides, and to think that maybe, just possibly, those who hold differing views might do so sincerely, and even with good reason.

In the final analysis, a bigot is anyone who holds a position with insufficient thought, never considering in their heart of hearts that perhaps they might be mistaken.

That's fair enough for me.

But what if I am wrong?

posted by Eric on 10.26.05 at 08:13 AM







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Tracked on October 27, 2005 1:35 AM



Comments

You know, I just have to say that I really enjoy reading your column; and precisely for the reasons you give - you work very hard to be open minded and fair to people you disagree with.

That's really rare on the internet - and everywhere else.

Mike Heinz   ·  October 26, 2005 11:35 AM

Mike,

Thank you! It is hard work, because I'm human too.

Eric Scheie   ·  October 26, 2005 12:20 PM

Politically, gays seem to be following blacks down the identity politics road to ruin. Any criticism of gays is bigotry, there is no such thing as moral oppposition to gay marriage, etc. Even "Inde Gay Forum" gets into the act, with Dale Peck railing that Schwarzenegger is a bigot for vetoing the Cal assembly's gay marriage bill (& ignoring the obvious fact the bill was unconstitutional since Cal voters approved Prop 22, which bold-faced liar Andrew Sullivan says really only meant out-of-state marriages). By playing identity politics & demonizing anyone who disagrees with them, gays (& blacks) are only self-marginalizing themselves.

jeff   ·  October 26, 2005 12:40 PM

In my heart, I know I'm right. Am I a bigot for saying that?

I never use the word "bigot" to describe my enemies, since the word is a an anti-concept that can mean anything from Archie Bunker to Adolf Hitler, and is often used to conflate the two. I certainly never use the word to mean a dogmatist, e.g., a Catholic opposing the doctrines of Protestantism, a Protestant opposing the doctrines of Catholism.

If the term has any meaning at all, it means somebody who hates a minority simply for being a minority, e.g., Negroes, Jews, homosexuals. In that case, though, I would just call them haters. I would especially single out those who make a career out of singling out a minority for persecution. The Ku Klux Klan is the most famous example. The American Right from the 1930s into the early 1960s was plagued by professional Jew-haters such as Gerald L. K. Smith, Hal Hunt, Elizabeth Dilling, Willis Carto. Most Jew-haters today are on the Left. The contemporary equivalent of these on the Right are the professional homo-haters such as Paul Cameron, Robert Knight, Lou Sheldon, Tony Perkins.

Most people who oppose or are sceptical of homoseual marriage are not of this ilk. I have read Marriage Debate and Family Scholars blogs for a long time. Maggie Gallagher does not hate homosexuals. Eve Tushnet does not hate homosexuals. David Blankenhorn does not hate homosexuals. Elizabeth Marquardt does not hate homosexuals. Most opposition to same-sex marriage is simply because it is new, untried. They fear that it could lead to the same kind of disaster that easy divorce led to. That is a valid Burkean conservative position. I disagree but I can respect it.

Those conservatives who oppose homosexual marriage have been challenged to prove their good faith, that marriage is what they really value, by also opposing divorce. In fact, many of them have, e.g., by supporting "covenant marriage" (which is essentially what I mean by "total commitment marriage") in which both spouses agree to forclose the option of divorce. Homosexuals who want to get married ought to do the same, prove their good faith, that marriage is what they really value, by joining heterosexual conservatives in opposing divorce and supporting total commitment marriage. Opposing adultery, too, but in my opinion divorce is even worse since it destroys a marriage altogether.

"Wherefore, they are no more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
-Matthew 19:6

"No man! No judge! No nation!"
-Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ

Of course, many homosexuals, like many heterosexuals, don't want to get married, and I can understand that. Too many constraints. They prefer a more unconstrained lifestyle. Well, I'm still a bachelor myself.

Wicked Wanda and her 69 women (she'll soon increase that number to 96), her scientific orgies. Holy Dawn, bound for eternity to her holy Negro wife Norma. Wanda enjoys her free existence. Dawn struggles toward her paradigm of ideal essences. The libertine Liberal. The captive Conservative.

As for "sodomy" laws (are there any "gomorrahy" laws?), however, I am absolutely intolerant. As I've said, sex is so sacred to me that laws against it or government control over sex is as intolerable as government control over religion as such, more so even than government control over economics or drugs. Those laws are an abomination. I absolutely oppose Big Brother in my bedroom. No compromise.

Those advocating such laws are either the above-mentioned professional homo-haters or else totalitarians like Bork and Santorum who hate the idea of individual autonomy as such. Or else just completely confused as to the whole concept of individual rights, as Clayton Cramer seems to be. He does defend the Second Amendment and other rights. Scalia seems to be in the same category.

There are some who wanted those laws repealed but opposed the Supreme Court striking it down. I think that position is contradictory, since if there one thing the Supreme Court is supposed to do, it's to strike down laws that are clearly un-Constitutional. But, as I gather, the feeling is that that same Court has made so many wrong-headed decisions before (and since) that its authority is somewhat eroded. What we desperately need is a Randy Barnett on the Court to clean out the Augean stables of "living [i.e., infinitely elastic] Constitutionalism" which leads to unlimited government.

I'm currently re-reading William H. McIlhany's The ACLU on Trial, in which he brilliantly exposes both the philosophical contradictions and the Communist influences within that organization. For an organization that consistently defends the rights of the individual, I recommend the Institute for Justice.

By the way, "sodomy" laws didn't just target homosexuals but heterosexuals, too. In many states, cunnilingus by a husband upon his wife was illegal. I've even heard tell that, in some states, sex with the woman on top was against the law. That is despicable!, as I, for one, would never have it any other way. Montana was the last state to repeal a law against masturbation. Had I lived in Montana at that time, I would have been a mastur-criminal.

And, yes, these laws were enforced. Not consistently, mostly sporadically, but they were enforced. The mere threat of their being enforced against you if a cop or a politician or a neighbor didn't like you was quite enough. The mere fact of such laws being on the books was an abomination -- government control of the most private and sacred realm.

Eric:
"...another example of something in short supply these days -- a thoughtful post about same sex marriage...."

Honey, you make me blush. Thanks for the link. Normally, I don't like having another person slighted in the process of my being praised. However, I will make an exception in the case of Downtown Lad, who shows up in multiple comment sections seemingly hellbent on proving, once and for all, the charge that gay men are all whiny bitches who can't confront criticism with equanimity.

jeff:
"Politically, gays seem to be following blacks down the identity politics road to ruin."

Feminists, too. When I was in college (1991-95), it became increasingly apparent that the then-emergent field of gay studies was operating by picking up on the dumbest, most divisive, most sententious, most illiberal ideas circulating in women's studies and ethnic studies circles.

Sean Kinsell   ·  October 26, 2005 11:49 PM

Steven Malcolm: Re sodomy laws, justices are (hopefully) not ruling on their own private views, but the Constitutionality of the statutes. In Clarence Thomas' dissent in Lawrence vs Texas, he said plainly that he felt such laws were ridiculous & if the matter were put to him as a voter he would vote against such laws. But to his mind, the plaintiffs couldn't show that the law violated the US Constitution (there are after all laws regulating all sorts of private behavior), unless you accept on faith that there exists a Constitutional 'right to privacy'.

This is a curious right that has to be accepted on blind faith because it appears nowhere in the Constitution & was pulled out of a hat in Griswold vs Connecticut, another silly law that nevertheless should have been handled by the legislature. And liberals apply it quite selectively; many support strict gun control laws, but doesn't the 'right to privacy' mean I can own a gun? (And even Ruth Ginsberg said Roe v Wade was a terrible decision.)

I think matters like gun control, the death penalty, abortion rights, & yes, gay marriage should be settled by the voters. But liberals know they can't win their agenda at the ballot box, so they rely on judicial fiat.

jeff   ·  October 27, 2005 10:53 AM

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