Gladd to help?

03.15.2012, 10:06 AM

The organization GLADD has launched a “Commentator Accountability Project” which promises to keep media organizations well informed about the true beliefs and motivations of 36 commentators in the media who, according to GLADD, in the name of commenting on gay marriage and other issues, say hurtful and untrue things about gay people.  Of the 36 people on the list, I think I know, either well or well enough to say hello to, about 8 or 9.  At least some of them, I am confident, should NOT be on such a list. 

But my question is (and it’s not rhetorical, I mean it as a question):  Should there be such a list?  I can think of valid reasons to make such a list, among them being an effort to rebut what is viewed as homophobic public speech.  And I don’t believe that making such a list in and of itself constitutes an effort to violate anyone’s right to free speech.  But something about these lists also makes me nervous.  Palmer had lists. McCarthy had  lists.  Hoover had lists.  There is something about these lists that smells bad. 

 


80 Responses to “Gladd to help?”

  1. Jeffrey505 says, the problem is conceding that the issue of gay marriage is a legitimate subject for debate. I know some ant-smm folk who believe exactly the same thing. I could not possibly disagree more with that position. Do others agree with Jeffrey?

    I see this as more of an empirical question than a moral question. The fact is, we don’t yet have a critical mass of people persuaded to support equal rights under the law for lgb people. Until we do have that critical mass — until, in other words, the SSM fight is won — then it IS a subject for debate, regardless of if we want it to be.

    As for the comparison you make: I’d say that the anti-SSM people who say it shouldn’t be subject to debate are behind the times. The pro-SSM people who say that, in contrast, are ahead of their time.

    Everyone is saying that Robert George wants to put gay people in prison for being gay. Would someone kindly point out to me an instance in which he has said that? The GLAAD people certainly did not put any such evidence on their site.

    This isn’t what i’ve been saying, David, and I think I’m the one who brought the subject up. I’ve been saying that Robert George opposed the Court’s decision in Lawrence v Texas, and supports the legality and legitimacy of sodomy laws.

    George spoke out very prominently on this question in the months before the lawrence v texas decision; iirc, he even wrote an amicus brief for the Court on the subject. Do you seriously question this?

    My guess is that George would distinguish between his public support for the legality of sodomy laws, and the cruder position of wanting to throw all gay people in jail. In practice, most states with sodomy laws didn’t use them to thrown gay people into prison willy-nilly; rather, they were only occasionally used in practice, but the threat of those laws being used constantly existed as a tool of harassment, intimidation and marginalization.

    (It’s notable, by the way, that in the 40s, 50s and 60s some municipalities DID throw gay people into jail willy-nilly; that’s what happened when police raided gay and lesbian bars, for instance. By the 70s, this no longer seemed like acceptable practice to much of the population, and as a result the police shifted their practices.)

    Is making this kind of list a good idea?

    I’m not sure if it’s a good idea tactically; it seems too likely to play into NOM’s “gay bullies” narrative. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

    I don’t see anything wrong, in theory, with making a site dedicated to pointing out the disturbing but less well-known positions taken by some leaders of the anti-SSM movement. Like Fannie, I wish GLAAD had done a better job.

    Should George be on the list?

    As I’ve been arguing on this thread, yes. But I agree he’s a more marginal example than many of the other folks on the list.

    In the end, I think Robert George is good for gay rights. His arguments are, to most people, incomprehensible. He really adds credibility to the pro-SSM view, which is that those who oppose SSM are unable to provide a coherent and sensible account of how SSM will harm anyone.

  2. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “Ultimately, imo, the source of rights is having a critical mass of the population (not necessarily a majority) acknowledge that those rights exist.”

    That’s a terrify thought, isn’t it? That one’s rights are based on permission of the majority, regardless of what the document that supposedly binds us together as a nation says? You’re ignoring the fact that we’ve had other discussions and court cases, already, with other groups, about equal treatment under the law. The evolution of black integration and equality is probably the most prominent, with women a near second. Haven’t we learned anything? Why can’t we stick to our principles, and not throw them overboard at the slightest provocation?

    Again, this is about a majority expressing its disapproval of a specific minority. “Concern” for marriage is just a smokescreen. I can just as easily see anti-gay groups gathering petitions to have the people vote on whether gay people should be allowed to get medical licenses, or teach in public schools. It you don’t like a group, it’s easy to craft reasons why they shouldn’t be allowed to do this or that thing. Some places have put ridiculous laws or ordinances in place, such as Tennessee’s “don’t say gay” rule in public schools. The effect of this kind of power in the hands of the majority is devastating on gay people. And the people on the GLAAD list couldn’t care less what harm they inflict.

    Hate groups like NOM, or hate-influenced governors like Christ Christie, insisting that the people vote on gay peoples’ legal rights in and of itself is an exercise in tyranny: it’s the majority reminding the minority that “we hold your fate in our hands”.

    I’m glad (pun intended) GLAAD and other organizations make lists of the bad guys. It publicizes them and their viewpoints, and associates them with these viewpoints in the minds of people paying attention. Let people know the despicable public policy they advocate; let their reputations be tarnished, if that’s what happens; let their friends and family be aware of who they are and what they stand for. Fairly or unfairly, let their children live with the legacy of a bigoted parent advocating a public policy that harms gay and lesbian people and their children. No one should be allowed to advocate against the legal rights of a minority group from the safety of anonymity. Propagandists like Professor George and Maggie Gallagher are there to put “lipstick on a pig”: they legitimize bigotry by creating flowery (if often incoherent) rationalizations for harmful discrimination. Their arguments against equal legal rights for gay and lesbian persons make no sense, but for people who just dislike or disapprove of gay people, but don’t want to admit it, they now have a “reasonable” argument for their position.

  3. fannie says:

    David,

    Hello, I was too busy this weekend to participate in this conversation, but I hope it’s not too late to address your question here:

    “If Robby George is a hater who should be ostracized from the public debate because he believes in the teachings of the Catholic Church as defined by the magesterium of that church, then why on earth single out Robby for the haters list?”

    George’s views are hardly unique, so yes, I can see how putting him on the GLAAD list singles him out. I think that issue comes back to the lack of any real criteria that GLAAD is stating and then applying when making the decision to include certain people on the list.

    I believe it was Barry who noted that perhaps George was included because he is a prominent voice who articulates these problematic views as a public figure and as a professional, and I would speculate that that’s probably why as well.

    Among other things, and most recently, in drafting the profoundly arrogant (in my opinion) Manhattan Declaration, in which a group of mostly heterosexual men, incapable of pregnancy and uninterested in same-sex marriage, declared their awesome bravery for opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage, he put himself out there publicly as a leader in anti-gay activism.

    (And, somewhat tangentially, I find his “What is Marriage?” piece to be somewhat intellectually incoherent and problematic on several levels, not the least of which is what looks to me like it exists primarily to be a pseudo-intellectual, after-the-fact, “civil” justification for denying marriage equality to same-sex couples, that can be cited as an “academic” piece in court. But that’s for sure a post in itself :-) )

    But more relevantly to this conversation, because GLAAD didn’t state specific criteria explaining why George is on the list but, say, the Pope isn’t, I don’t think we know for sure why GLAAD included him while excluding others who hold Catholicly-based anti-gay views.

    As for your question about whether or not there should be a list, I’m disappointed in this project as it currently exists for several reasons that I’ve stated in previous comments.

    I think there could be value in creating (a) a repository of anti-LGBT statements that public figures and activists have made, (b) then framing the project around why those statements are hurtful/harmful to LGBT people, and (c) while also articulating clear standards for including certain people/statements. But this GLAAD project is not that.

  4. Peter Hoh says:

    Jeffrey, when you describe Chris Christie as a “hate-incluenced governor,” you lose me.

    Christie’s veto reflects his political ambitions, not hate. He made a political calculation.

    If Christie’s veto is sufficient to mark him as a hater, well, then what do you make of Bill Clinton, who was responsible for DOMA and DADT?

  5. Ledasmom says:

    In other words, he was influenced by hate – other people’s – in deciding to veto, no? Fits the definition of “hate-influenced governor” to me.
    Incidentally, I do not think that one’s bigoted views having been taken from the teachings of a church excuses them from being considered bigoted. Bigoted is bigoted. Can be secularly based, can be religiously based, doesn’t make much difference to the people against whom the bigots are bigoted.
    I’m always amazed when anyone assumes that liberals as a group liked Bill Clinton. He was loads better than the alternative, that’s all.

  6. nobody.really says:

    “If Robby George is a hater who should be ostracized from the public debate because he believes in the teachings of the Catholic Church as defined by the magesterium of that church, then why on earth single out Robby for the haters list?”

    1. Again, I understand GLAAD to simply provide information about speakers. No, I don’t favor providing inaccurate or misleading information. But to the extent that the information is accurate and relevant to the discussion, I don’t see the harm in noting it.

    2. That said, I sense that most people A) embrace a faith, B) have vaguely positive feelings about people who embrace a faith, and C) feel creeped out by people who dogmatically embrace a faith – even the same one we presumably embrace ourselves.

    I support freedom of religion, including the freedom to embrace views rejected by the great majority. People who sincerely embrace all of Catholic dogma are people who embrace views rejected by the great majority – including a great majority of Catholics.

    Robby’s views may be Catholic, but they ain’t catholic; Orthodox, yet unorthodox.

  7. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Peter Hoh, I think there’s a difference between 1996, when same-sex marriage was legal nowhere, and gay sex was still criminalized, and now, 2012, when gay sex is no longer criminalized, and several states and countries have legalized same-sex marriage. The New Jersey legislature legalized same-sex marriage; the people of New Jersey appear to favor it. The New Jersey Supreme Court said gay couples must be given the exact same rights and status as straight couples, even if the word “marriage” isn’t used. So far, that hasn’t been achieved.

    Obviously Gov. Christie is playing politics, but to whom? Not the legislature, not the courts, and not the people of New Jersey. Could he be looking at his political fortunes outside New Jersey, then? Possibly. Is he just to weak of character to do the right thing. Very likely. In either case, his blatant disregard for the rights and well-being of gay people earns him the right to be branded a homophobe. Whatever his motivations, he’s harming gay couples and the children they may be raising, as well as the friends and family members who care about them.

    I’m quite weary of this “it’s not that I hate gay people, I just like straight people better!” line of thinking. Ok, I’ll play: It’s not that I hate black people, I just think white people should get paid more, get better schools for their kids, and have more legal rights than black people. Sound fair to you?

  8. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “Christie’s veto reflects his political ambitions, not hate. He made a political calculation.”

    That’s your opinion. I look at outcomes, not motivations, on this. As I mentioned above, you don’t get away with saying it’s not that you don’t like a specific group, you just have other principles. Any manner of human cruelty can be rationalized in that way. If the outcome is harm to a group, then you own it. And again, the circumstances of Christie’s veto are night and day different from Bill Clinton’s in 1996.

  9. Peter Hoh says:

    Jeffrey, I don’t think that labeling the opponents of same-sex marriage is the best way to secure the extension of marriage to same-sex couples.

    I think it’s silly to describe Christie as a “hate-influenced governor.” It’s far more accurate to describe him as an ambitious governor, who is making political calculations that extend beyond what he thinks is best for New Jersey and its citizens. If one wanted to be a bit nasty, one could call him a coward.

    But if you’re going to call him a homophobe, don’t be surprised if that term starts to lose all meaning.

    While I wish that Christie had signed the bill, he, at least, is not advocating a constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage and/or civil unions. If New Jersey voters are really ready for same-sex marriage, they will have the opportunity to say so at the polls, and Christie is not trying to prevent this. Real homophobes are working to prevent voters from extending marriage to same-sex couples.

    But even if Christie were motivated by animus toward homosexuals, so what. The way forward is open, and it doesn’t involve labeling or trying to root out the last remnants of homophobia.

    There is much that I’d like to quote from the Jonathan Rauch essay that addresses the issue of recalibration in light of the emerging majority support for gay rights. I’ll limit myself to two excerpts:

    Too often we do throw around charges of bigotry promiscuously. Too often we fail to distinguish between people who loathe us because we’re gay (a small number, nowadays) and people who disagree with us on marriage, say, or military service (a much larger number). Intentionally or not, we send a message that anyone who isn’t with us all the way is a hater.

    Recalibrating is not a retreat. It is a strategy. True, it treats our opponents with more graciousness and compassion than they ever showed to us—but we want equality, not revenge. Obviously, we should criticize our opponents. But we should not try to use law or social coercion to shut them up or force them to repudiate their views, and we should reserve extreme rhetoric for extreme cases.

  10. Peter Hoh says:

    Jeffrey, you write, “I look at outcomes, not motivations, on this.”

    And yet later in that paragraph, when addressing Clinton’s backing of DOMA and DADT, you consider circumstances.

    I’m going to challenge you to look at outcomes, not motivations or circumstances.

    Which caused greater harm to gay and lesbian individuals: DOMA and DADT, or the veto of the marriage bill in New Jersey?

  11. Phil says:

    I think it’s silly to describe Christie as a “hate-influenced governor.”

    On the one hand, I agree with Ledasmom’s assessment that Christie was, at least in part, influenced by other people’s hate, so the phrase is not unwarranted.

    On the other hand, I don’t disagree with Peter Hoh’s view that calling every anti-gay person a hater isn’t necessarily the best political or rhetorical strategy.

    We seem to be too focused on attributing bigotry to hate, to try to stop the hate, or call out haters. The problem with identifying someone as hateful requires me to make a judgement about what is in their heart. For that reason, I think we should bring back a term that was commonly associated with bigotry in the 1960s: ignorance. It may well be that most bigoted actions are borne of hate, but it’s also fair to say that all bigoted actions are borne of ignorance. And it makes more sense rhetorically to identify other people as ignorant: while “hate” implies some sort of awareness, a person can be ignorant and not know it.

  12. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I’m not worried about politeness here, Peter. When someone, especially someone influential like a governor, defies his state’s court, his legislature and what can arguably be the direct wishes of the people he governs, there’s something unseemly going on. I don’t mind calling a spade a spade. I realize that the anti-gay crowd doesn’t particularly want to be labeled as bigots. I imagine members of the KKK would also like to get a warmer reception from society. Most Americans are unwilling to extend such courtesy.

    Again, you want this decided by majority vote, a highly illogical methodology, when the majority already has the right it wishes to deny the minority, and many in the majority have already expressed and exhibited dislike and disapproval of that minority. I disapprove of obese people. I bet if I was so inclined I could convince a majority of voters to deny them, including Chris Christie, access to fine restaurants, if only for their own good. Would you approve of such an endeavor? Would Governor Christie?

    I believe the insistence of a popular vote, combined with an insistence that the discourse remain civil, are simply propagandist efforts to disguise the insidious nature of denying a minority group equal rights. I guess if you can’t make a reasonable argument in favor of denying equal legal rights to gay and lesbian citizens, you should insist that the non-gay majority get to decide the issue in the privacy of the voting booth. That way, no one can be publicly shamed for their bigotry, or end up on a GLAAD list. Folks like Robert George and Maggie Gallagher provide public cover for the unsavory private view that gays and lesbians must remain second-class citizens. They are propagandists, in service to human fear and loathing. Very unfortunate.

    “But even if Christie were motivated by animus toward homosexuals, so what.”

    So what? It’s a big deal when a public official or other public opinion leader uses animosity to deny equal legal rights to minority groups. Christie loses whatever right he might have otherwise possessed to engage in civil discourse when he uses animosity as his motivation.

    And again, the notion that a minority should be nice in order to attain its lawful rights is bizarre. It might be expedient politically, but to ask minorities to “play nice” while they are being discriminated against is something their adversaries want, just to protect themselves.

  13. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “Which caused greater harm to gay and lesbian individuals: DOMA and DADT, or the veto of the marriage bill in New Jersey?”

    I don’t know why you don’t want to admit that the circumstances in 1996 were vastly different than they are now, but here goes.

    I think Christie’s veto is more damaging. At a time when most Americans want equal legal treatment for gays and lesbians, Christie wants to perpetuate the belief that the majority gets to vote on the rights of a minority. For the time being, that minority happens to be gays and lesbians. It could be Muslims next, or, hopefully, obese people, whose lack of eating discipline should be grounds for denial of certain food-related rights.

    DOMA changed nothing, since no gay couples could yet marry. DADT was a compromise that at least stopped the military from denying the right to serve based on sexual orientation.

    Although the “arguments” of the anti-gays have become uglier and even less truthful, they still provide cover for voters, who say, well, gosh, this Princeton professor says marriage should be only for straight people, and even though I just personally dislike gay people, I can say in public that I’m agreeing with a college professor!

  14. or, hopefully, obese people, whose lack of eating discipline should be grounds for denial of certain food-related rights.

    This is off-topic, but I have to ask: Are you being serious?

    * * *

    I think Christie is being politically expedient, because he wants to win the Republican presidential primary in four years. Clinton’s support of DOMA also seems like political expediency (and ditto for the many, many other Democrats who supported DOMA at the time).

    The real barrier here isn’t Christie. It’s the Republican base. When we’ve changed enough minds among the Republican base — and I’m not whistling dixie here, when you look at polls of young conservatives it’s clear that the change has already begun — then Christie and others like him will change their tune.

    Major politicians, on major social issues, are followers, not leaders. I’d bet fifty bucks that the Democratic nominee in 2016 will favor marriage equality. Not because I think the Democratic nominee (whoever it’ll be) is brave, but in fact because they are NOT brave.

    It was one thing for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards to oppose marriage equality; they were the only major candidates in 2008, and even though much of the base disagreed with their stand, they didn’t lose anything by crossing the base. Pro-equality voters had no viable alternatives to vote for.

    But 2016 will be different. Some of the likely big-league candidates have already declared support for marriage equality. Any Democrat who goes against that in 2016 will be losing tons of votes — not to mention the support of organizations like GLAAD. (See how I’m trying to turn this back to the original topic?) No major candidate will be willing to do that, even if they personally oppose SSM (and I doubt any of them do).

    For all that SSM opponents accuse SSM supporters of being “elitists,” this really is in many ways a grass-roots movement. Which cheers me up a lot. As I said before, the only REAL guarantee of rights, is a large-scale social consensus that those rights are real and must be respected. But I think we’re on the way towards that.

  15. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I’m serious, Barry, that I find obese people disgusting. Just like some people find gay people disgusting. The difference is, I don’t think obese people should have fewer legal rights than trim and fit me. Plenty of people who disapprove or dislike gay people are only too happy to deny them equal legal protections, or even protection from hate crimes.

  16. Okay, so you weren’t serious when you wrote that obese people should face the “denial of certain food-related rights,” but you are serious in saying that you find obese people disgusting. Thanks for clarifying that.

    I’m certainly glad that you don’t favor legal inequality for fat people.

    There is a long-standing connection between disgust and prejudice, which shapes much of how some people view glbt people, and how some people view fat people. It’s an interesting area, and I’d encourage you to question your feelings towards fat people, just as I’d encourage someone who finds gay people disgusting to question those feelings.

  17. Peter Hoh says:

    Jeffrey: Again, you want this decided by majority vote

    From where do you draw this conclusion? As stated upthread, I wish that Christie had signed the bill.

    I don’t think that rights should be subject to referendum. As a practical matter, however, if it takes a referendum, then let’s win the referendum.

    While it’s true that Loving was decided when a significant majority of Americans still told pollsters that they disapproved of interracial marriage, it’s worth noting that by 1960 interracial marriage was legal in the majority of the states.

    Same-sex marriage is charting a different course. The majority of Americans will approve of same-sex marriage long before the majority of states recognize same-sex marriage.

    ———————

    As for DOMA vs. the veto, how about this question: If you could end DOMA or get Christie to sign that bill, which would you choose?

    DOMA continues to put married same-sex couples and their children at a disadvantage when it comes to inheritance taxes, survivor benefits, and immigration issues — you know, big stuff that really matters.

    Congress has shown little courage on this issue. I suspect that most of them are counting on the Supreme Court to do their work for them. However, I don’t think that the Supreme Court is ready to issue a sweeping decision that will settle the issue of same-sex marriage at the state level, even if they were to rule that DOMA is not constitutional.

    I understand the frustration that this is taking longer than you and I think it should take. I think it’s going to take a few more years of people pushing their legislators on this issue, and it will take a few state-wide referendums in which the voters affirm same-sex marriage.

  18. nobody.really says:

    When we’ve changed enough minds among the Republican base — and I’m not whistling dixie here….

    Ha!

  19. nobody.really says:

    A wise man once said

    most people A) embrace a faith, B) have vaguely positive feelings about people who embrace a faith, and C) feel creeped out by people who dogmatically embrace a faith….

    It turns out that a lot of wise guys have been saying this. Who knew?

  20. R.K. says:

    Way, way too much to say here, and likely not enough time to say it considering how close we are to the bottom of the page.

    I do wish more of you would say it: “The commonly understood, orthodox, historical positions regarding homosexuality and marriage, not only of most branches of Christianity and Islam but also Orthodox Judaism, and even many cultures outside of this, are highly offensive to me (whether gay or not) and should be condemned by anyone who wishes to legitimately participate in the debate, and anyone articulating such positions should be roundly condemned for putting “lipstick on a pig” and not be allowed to participate in this debate or any other, and should be ostracized forever for doing so.”

    I do understand how a religious doctrine or belief can be offensive if it conflicts with you personally, and with something which is very important to you personally. (I broke with MY folks’ church over some doctrines I couldn’t hold).

    But can you not just state what it really is that you’re up against? We can see it’s not just the Fred Phelps types, or even those who use namecalling or invective. It’s anyone who publicly adheres to the positions of these religions as they have been commonly understood. It’s anyone who believes in such religious denominations and believes that they have something to say about what’s right and wrong. When you tell people “your church’s beliefs about morals are wrong”, you are saying that church has no credibility on moral issues, and to many people, this is an insult against their faith itself, regardless of what the secular culture may say. The difference between politics and religion is that religion has never been a matter that is decided bottom-up.

    Anyway, that is what you’re up against, and you should have the courage to say it. Face it, those are the “battle lines”, if you insist that this has to be a battle and no middle ground is possible. Or is it not a matter of courage, but of strategy?

    I’d like to say a lot, lot more about a lot of things that have been raised here and elsewhere (and yes, I will gladly print past statements of mine in full context). Among them the idea that in science anything is ever really to be considered “closed”, or that we should not be honest about it lest it be regarded as offensive. And there are some things that DO touch on matters very personal to me, yes.

    But if I start writing more, I may not stop for hours, and perhaps an E-mail to Elizabeth or David is the better route, if that is OK.

  21. I do wish more of you would say it: “The commonly understood, orthodox, historical positions regarding homosexuality and marriage, not only of most branches of Christianity and Islam but also Orthodox Judaism, and even many cultures outside of this, are highly offensive to me (whether gay or not) and should be condemned by anyone who wishes to legitimately participate in the debate, and anyone articulating such positions should be roundly condemned for putting “lipstick on a pig” and not be allowed to participate in this debate or any other, and should be ostracized forever for doing so.”

    Well, that’s a rather large hunk of text you’re trying to put into my mouth. Let me consider it a bit at a time.

    “The commonly understood, orthodox, historical positions regarding homosexuality and marriage, not only of most branches of Christianity and Islam but also Orthodox Judaism, and even many cultures outside of this, are highly offensive to me (whether gay or not) and should be condemned by anyone who wishes to legitimately participate in the debate….”

    Well, already I’m in a pickle. What are “the commonly understood, orthodox, historical positions regarding homosexuality and marriage”?

    Do you mean the position that homosexuals should be stoned to death? Yes, I think anyone who holds that position should be condemned by all, and such a position has no legitimate place in a debate about modern US policy. I suspect you’d agree with me about that.

    Do you mean the idea that homosexual acts should be illegal? Again, yes, such a position has no legitimate place in current debates.

    Do you mean the position that homosexuality should be “regarded as intrinsically non-marital and, as such, immoral”? I think this idea, too, has no place in modern US policy debate. Whether the next Republican nominee is Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney, they will not dare express their opposition to gay marriage in these terms, because independent voters find that sort of talk ugly.

    Do you mean the idea that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples? As I said earlier in this thread, I think those folks clearly need to be part of the debate.

    and anyone articulating such positions should be roundly condemned for putting “lipstick on a pig”

    I think the “lipstick on a pig” remark was a description of the particular style of argument used by Robert George, not a description of all SSM opponents.

    and not be allowed to participate in this debate or any other, and should be ostracized forever for doing so.

    Here I think you’re just letting your imagination get the better of you.
    I’ve never said, and I don’t think anyone here has said, that (for example) Robert George should never be allowed to participate in any debate, and should be ostracized forever.

    I do think that Robert George has taken some positions which are morally outrageous — most notably his passionate defense of sodomy laws — and he should be held accountable for that. By “held accountable,” I mean that people should ask him to account for it and defend it when he appears on TV and the like. If that has the effect of reducing his credibility, that would be a just and fair outcome.

    But no one is calling for Robert George to be censored. No one is calling for him to be “ostracized,” unless you consider criticism and disapproval to be ostracism. (Surely you can’t imagine that Robert George has a right not to be criticized or disapproved of.)

    When you tell people “your church’s beliefs about morals are wrong”, you are saying that church has no credibility on moral issues, and to many people, this is an insult against their faith itself, regardless of what the secular culture may say.

    I don’t think churches have any credibility on moral issues. I’m a secular Jew; why I should find the Pope to be a moral authority?

    Most churches have a genuinely terrible historic record of brutal mistreatment of lesbian and gay people. Why should churches be considered moral authorities on homosexuality?

    It’s not reasonable to ask me to defer to the Pope’s moral authority when we’re discussing secular policy issues, not even to avoid insulting (some) Catholics.

  22. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I think a lot of religionists are actually a little surprised and annoyed at the push-back they are getting on their attempts to use religious beliefs to deny a minority group certain legal rights. In my experience, many people embrace religion in order to gain instant respect and even admiration. When they make their proclamations that the bible prohibits same-sex marriage, they seem to expect it to be taken as authoritative, instead of the opinion that it is. When their declarations are met with disdain, I think that bothers them more than the actual issue at hand.

  23. R.K. says:

    Thanks for the reply, Barry.

    Do you mean the position that homosexuals should be stoned to death?

    When was that the position of the Christian church? When was that last the position of Orthodox Judaism? Yes, I know it’s still the position in Sharia Islam.

    But it’s no more the commonly understood, orthodox, historical position of most of Christianity than is the idea that adulterers should be stoned to death, and I don’t really have to point that out, do I? Or point out that this does not mean adultery is not still regarded as a sin by most Christians, and Jews?

    Peter Hoh probably has a point about people being hypocritical in still opposing homosexual unions but tolerating adultery. But would we demand that the person who articulated the view that adultery was immoral be excluded from debate? That is, would such a person be placed on an “accountability list” and would any journalist who quoted such a person be, in turn, chided for doing so? (That is the real intent of the list in the “Commentator Accountability Project”, is it not?)

    Do you mean the idea that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples? As I said earlier in this thread, I think those folks clearly need to be part of the debate.

    Yes, you are saying this….at this point in time, of course, though if I read you right, and please correct me if I’m wrong, you’ve said that in the future you don’t think that will be the case. Others here are taking a position which (and again, correct me if I’m reading you wrong or putting words in your mouth) you have said is “ahead of the time”.

    It’s OK, you believe in the concept of a “closed case” as far as argument is concerned, and I don’t, though I can come up with some extreme exceptions, they really are far more extreme. (To say I’ll listen to an argument does not by any means mean I’ll accept the argument, of course).

    I think the “lipstick on a pig” remark was a description of the particular style of argument used by Robert George, not a description of all SSM opponents.

    No, that’s not how I read Jeffrey’s statement at all. He clearly was referring to all SSM opponents, and not just in that statement.

    I don’t think churches have any credibility on moral issues. I’m a secular Jew; why I should find the Pope to be a moral authority?

    Not for you, and not even for me, as I’m not Catholic either, but for many other people, he is, and to imply that statements which are essentially like the Pope’s position (or even St. Paul’s, some of which I too have a lot of problem with personally) should not be publically articulated is seen as an insult to their faith, like it or not.

    What I’m asking is that you at least acknowledge that that is in fact what the battle involves.

  24. Jeffrey, I agree. Some people do seem to regard it as rude or wrong to question any opinion that’s rooted in the bible. Which is a big problem, when we’re discussing public policy.

    RK:

    Of course what I’d like to see — and what we will eventually see, imo — is for same-sex marriage to become a “closed case.” My goal is near-universal agreement that equal marriage rights for LGBT people are non-negotiable, and I’d like legal SSM to be so secure in our culture that we can move on to discussing other issues.

    One component of that is that anyone still advocating legal inequality would lose credibility in the public square. But that’s not my GOAL; it’s just a side effect of my goal.

    (By the way, a similar thing (but in the reverse direction) would also happen if the anti-SSM people ever succeed in persuading nearly all Americans that SSM is wrong and would do dreadful harm to our culture. If you folks succeed in your goals, then my position will be discredited in the public square.)

    It’s OK, you believe in the concept of a “closed case” as far as argument is concerned, and I don’t, though I can come up with some extreme exceptions, they really are far more extreme. (To say I’ll listen to an argument does not by any means mean I’ll accept the argument, of course).

    I don’t understand how you can not believe in the concept of a “closed case” (or, as I’d put it, “that’s an issue that has been settled in the public square”). That’s like not believing in gravity. It’s just how things work, and it doesn’t rely on you believing in it.

    Do you think GLAAD should currently be putting as much staff time and resources into arguing that police should stop raiding gay bars and arresting people for being gay as they do into arguing SSM? Should the TV networks, newspapers and blogs be spending as much time covering the police raid issue as they covering the issue of SSM? How could they be forced to do so? Should TV networks be legally forced to give people holding those positions airtime?

    If large numbers of Americans find the idea that police should be able to thrown LGB people into jail for being gay to be discredited, how do you propose to undo that and force them to take that idea seriously, and anyone arguing for it, seriously?

    My guess is that you’ll say that you don’t want to force GLAAD and blogs like this one to discuss raiding gay bars, and you don’t want to force people to not find some people less creditable than others based on what they say. But in that case, in what sense are you opposed to cases being closed?

    I guess you could be claiming that a case, once closed, could in theory be reopened. That’s true, but I think it’s also kind of a trivial point, and one that no one really opposes. It’s not like we’re doing anything to prevent Robert George’s position re: Lawrence v Texas from being spoken; we’re just treating it as the foolishness it is, which we have a right to do.

  25. Peter Hoh says:

    R.K., I have never suggested that someone should be excluded from this debate, on any grounds.

    Anyone who wants to bring up “the commonly understood, orthodox, historical positions regarding homosexuality and marriage” is welcome to do so, but they should not expect that this is sufficient to settle this public policy debate.

    And I will continue to point out that our laws no longer reflect the commonly understood, orthodox, historical positions regarding adultery and marriage.

    Many years ago, I jokingly suggested that gays and lesbians simply argue for the same rights we give adulterers.

    The serious question is this: Why should our public policy hold gays and lesbians to a higher standard than adulterers?

  26. R.K. says:

    Barry: I don’t understand how you can not believe in the concept of a “closed case” (or, as I’d put it, “that’s an issue that has been settled in the public square”). That’s like not believing in gravity. It’s just how things work, and it doesn’t rely on you believing in it.

    What I’m referring to by a “closed case” is not just something for which there at the time is no good evidence to the contrary, such as Newton’s law of gravity. What I mean is something which it is held can’t be argued to the contrary.

    There’s no reason to believe that Newton was wrong about gravity. But if a scientist in the future was able to provide a good argument that, in their opinion, showed that Newton was fundamentally wrong, would they be allowed, not just legally but in a de facto sense as well, to argue their case? Or would it be held that Newton’s laws were so established that the case was “closed” and that no arguments, no matter how well argued, against (or even for modifying) his law of gravity should even be published in a scientific journal, even if it wasn’t illegal? Newton’s laws were considered universal until Einstein’s theory of relativity showed that they did not work in all instances. And now there are arguments that Einstein was not entirely right either because particles have been found which exceed the speed of light. As far as the scientific method goes, there really is no such thing as a “closed case”. “Established” laws can always be questioned, no matter how well established, and if someone can make a convincing case they can even be undone. Not saying they all will, just that the door must always remain open to argue that the “established” position is wrong.

    The same really goes for moral theory as well. Anything can be questioned if someone can make a convincing enough case. Doesn’t mean we should abandon our moral concepts just because somebody questions them, but at least we should give everyone the opportunity to read what those arguing the other side have to say so we can all evaluate whether or not their argument makes sense. We have debates over abortion, capital punishment, even torture in extreme circumstances, even though many believe that there is a position on those issues that shouldn’t even be questioned.

    Anyway, that’s what I mean by a “closed case”.

    Do you think GLAAD should currently be putting as much staff time and resources into arguing that police should stop raiding gay bars and arresting people for being gay as they do into arguing SSM?

    If the police were for some reason to start raiding gay bars and jailing gays again I’d certainly be all for GLAAD arguing against it, as I’m certain you would be too.

    I think the belief in a “closed case” is based on a belief that “human culture can’t go backwards”. But there’s too many examples throughout history showing that it can, for worse or for better.

    My guess is that you’ll say that you don’t want to force GLAAD and blogs like this one to discuss raiding gay bars, and you don’t want to force people to not find some people less creditable than others based on what they say. But in that case, in what sense are you opposed to cases being closed?

    How does this have anything to do with the issue of forcing “equal time” for all views? To say a view should not be booted out of the public square is not to say that anyone must present it. As for whether or not networks should be unofficially pressured to not cover views relevant to a topic, take that up with GLAAD.

    …we’re just treating it as the foolishness it is, which we have a right to do.

    Essentially, Barry, what I’m saying is that a bad or “foolish” argument is determined by the argument and not by the conclusion. I think what you’re saying is that an argument can be regarded as being unworthy merely because it’s on the “wrong” side of an issue, whether it’s argumentation is good or bad.

    Peter: R.K., I have never suggested that someone should be excluded from this debate, on any grounds.

    I know you have not. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that you have. I should have said “some others here…”, not just “others here”, to clarify that I was not referring to everyone besides Barry as wanting to exclude all opponents of SSM from public debate. You and I still disagree, but you have always argued your position in a fair and respectable way. Sorry if you thought I was implying otherwise.