« Bizzaro World Belle: She Compellingly Opposes Same-Sex Marriage | Main | Friday Random Thoughts »

October 28, 2005


Jason Kuznicki

Please don't beat yourself up over this one.

If it makes you feel any better -- and I swear I'm not making this up -- it had entered MY mind to try making the best possible argument against same-sex marriage, too. I was genuinely upset when I saw that you'd beaten me to it.

And you know what? I'm IN a same-sex marriage, so you can hardly say that my support for SSM is lukewarm or merely academic.

Now, I'd have followed my planned-for post with a refutation, of course, where I showed how the best-possible argument was still quite wrong... but it did enter my mind to do it, so again, don't feel bad.


Yeah, actually I think you were right the first time. Intellectual honesty surely recommends that we submit even our most dearly-held views to rational criticism - the strongest we can muster - to ensure that we really are justified in holding them.

What Kvetch - and now you - seem to be doing is privileging partisan advancement over reasoned dialogue. That's understandable to an extent, since this is a good cause and we should want to advance it. Nevertheless, I much prefer the ideal of political engagement whereby one commits to intellectual honesty above all else. After all, assuming we're on the right side here, we should have nothing to fear from the truth!

If after constructing the best possible anti-SSM argument that you can, you then go on to successfully refute it, then this surely strengthens our positions. Alternatively, if we cannot refute it (which isn't the case here anyhow) then that's grounds for a little humility and possible reconsideration of our views. Maybe we weren't as right as we thought we were. Either way, I don't see how anything is lost by engaging in such "devil's advocacy".


Belle, fwiw, I really liked your original post, rhetoric and all. There *is* something to be gained by constructing the anti-SSM arguments as rigorously as possible; viz., so we can see what's wrong with them.

Gallagher and Kass and the others haven't put forward the tightest of arguments, but that doesn't mean that their positions are unmotivated, nor that the people who agree with them don't believe that Gallagher's argument is 'basically right, if sloppily stated.'

Since SSM is a position on which people of good will can (and do) disagree, it helps to have a solid reconstruction of the argument. I hope support for same sex marriage isn't based on the prayer that the other side will never develop a coherent position.

Might not be a bad idea to show how such an anti-SSM move can be defeated, though.

Kenny Easwaran

What I noticed in reading your previous post is that there really does seem to be a core of arguments based around a sort of precautionary principle that SSM opponents have in fact started to coalesce around (at least, in polite company), and that these are the arguments you focused on. This is what the debate between conservative and progressive always comes down to, almost by definition.

But the "slippery slope" arguments you also use seem to set up somewhat of a strawman - the ideals of marriage being for individual fulfillment may give support for polygamy and consensual adult incest, but the people whose only pleasure is from child sexual abuse of course won't get included. The theoretical cognitive discovery that would lower the age of consent is a better argument, but actually that's a bullet I'm willing to bite, because I think we've got extremely convincing evidence to show that this just won't happen. (Now, maybe such a test will eventually discover this age to be somewhere between 15 and 20, but that wouldn't really shock anyone. Except for the fact that it's a spooky mind-brain reduction.)

Anyway, I was really much happier reading your argument than most of the ones I've read by conservatives (except the related ones by Bob McGrew), or the strawman reconstructions given by many leftists. It's nice to see people treat ideas nicely, even when the ideas are deeply problematic. (Especially when the ridiculous parts of the ideas are respectfully left out.)

Scott Martens

I still think the slippery slope argument can be deflected by claiming that the state's justification in regulating sexual relationships is primarily based on the inequality of the partners - that no sexual relationship between an adult and a child can be equal, and that while in theory incest and polygamy could be, in actual practice they are not.

As for finding better arguments against gay marriage... Well, I'm kinda in the same boat. I favor gay marriage, but my mother and brother do not. Of course, they live a country that actually has gay marriage; and neither is really much of a homophobe. The reasons they give for their opposition go something like: "You could marry your toaster too, but it would be silly to call that a marriage." A great many people believe that marriage has content other than as a kind of relationship between two people, and their insistence on this point suggests that there is more to it than homophobia.

There is a good deal of homophobia on the anti-gay marriage side, but trying to identify the reasons why people who have long since abandoned castigating gay people are still willing to get up in arms about gay marriage strikes me as necessary. In Belgium, where gay marriage is legal and largely unopposed, a surprising amount of opposition to allowing gay couples to adopt children has recently materialized. If the goal is the genuine social equality of gay people, getting at the real logic behind these responses - making it plain to see - is important.

There is something different about gay marriage, at least in the minds of its opponents. There are basic narratives about human relations that are not really touched by interracial marriage or racial equality that are being touched by gay marriage, and asking ourselves what those things can be by trying to come up with sensible anti-SSM arguments, if nothing else in order to strike them down, seems reasonable to me.

Juke Moran

A lot of human things are products of an evolution that's weathered some seriously dramatic fluctuations. Most of the social arguments on questions like this, that have people on both sides so firmly convinced of their superiority, are based on the present social context continuing pretty much as is. That may not be the most adult of conjecture.
The harshness of Islamic fundamentalism, which I'm not advocating or defending, looks one way from the comfortable windows of a culture glutted with surplus and hedonistic opportunity; and looks an entirely different way from the harsh ground of dystopic chaos - a condition our species has endured quite often in its past and may yet survive to endure again.
It's possible to see rigid social code as a strategy for weathering harsh conditions. The military functions at levels of discipline most of us find intolerably confining for just that reason.
So, marriage is an institution. Sex is a biological complex. The institution exists because societies have traditionally been furthered by formalizing and regulating sex and its consequences.
Most of the formal institutions of the past are archaic and unrooted now, including marriage - they have no urgency in the moment, and it makes them seem unnecessary. But the moment is exponentially intensifying.
It's comforting to imagine things going along pretty much as they are, with minor adjustments here and there, but it seems logically unsound.
This culture is desperately and inflexibly attached to its finite power sources, and it's global now and its population boundaries are not going to be regulated without massive change - either intentional fascist eugenics or some kind of chaos event, or both.
So trying to articulate moral precepts based solely on current "normal" ways of living isn't appropriate.
What I mean is the things we consider reasonable expectations in our social environments - no roving bands of lawless thugs to fear at night, every night, no constant predation at sites of essential resources requiring draining levels of vigilance and sacrifice etc.
Islamic tenets we view as insanely constrictive, especially to women, were created to preserve something we take for granted, the larger social fabric, in times when it's survival was anything but guaranteed.
Christianity as a social institution came out of similar exigencies as well.
A lot of the old moralities evolved to meet conditions we here now haven't ever seen first-hand. So we imagine they're unimportant and valueless.
This same kind of chauvinist platform underlies a lot of the evolution/creationism debate. The evolutionists, who clearly have the facts on their side, don't seem to be able to view their opponents as acting out some kind of survival strategy. They're just wrong, and this is repeated to them in a hundred different ways, as though that alone should do it.
At the same time you see relatively smart people telling relatively not-so-smart people they should quit clamoring for their stupid beliefs and get in line with the rest of the rational folks.
That this would mean those dimmer individuals would be getting in line behind the smarter ones, and staying there, isn't being recognized as as central as I think it should be - because whether they recognize it or not, it certainly is central to the less-favored. Dummies don't win. But in the creationist world they have just as much a shot as smart guys do. So...
This confusion of essence is behind a lot of the prejudice and antipathy that's polarizing the same-sex marriage debate. It isn't exactly about what the more prominent debaters are proposing - the real issues are survival, always. People don't become this passionate about trivial concerns.
Things like football riots may seem to disprove that, but only if you don't look at what those games really are, and what's really motivating the rioters.
An off-the-mark superiority saturates what is essentially the same basic affinity group on the rationalist side of both the evolution and gay-marriage debates.
So why isn't it winning?
Because the struggle isn't for the truth, it's for survival. It isn't about the best team, it's about who wins.
And there's something else going on here besides a simple argument of fact.
The defenders of traditional marriage and Biblical creationism are fighting to preserve not just themselves but, like any organism, the conditions and opportunities that give their offspring an optimal chance of surviving.
Genetic pragmatism - morality is shaped to that, not vice versa.
This is why there are no grizzly bears in California now, even though the state flag figures one prominently at its center.
It's nice to think we're all the same and we all represent pretty much the same genetically-driven organism, but science has shown us that just isn't so. We're millions of possible genetic paths, held in this one locus. I don't mean individual reproductive potential per se, but the Galapagian seed we all represent.
There's nothing provably superior in the survival quotient of an intolerant homophobic theocracy - except for intolerant theocratic homophobes and their offspring of course - and there's nothing provably superior about a tolerant and diversity-encouraging democracy either.
In fact one of the weaker aspects of tolerance is it can too easily allow the intolerant to use its instrumentalities for their own intolerant purposes - viz. the present Bush administration and its Republican Congress.
This question isn't going to be solvable on the merits of the legal arguments, superior though they are, or the moral arguments, humanly apt as they are - not when the arguments are tangential to what's happening.
Very much shorter this:
Including same-sex marriage in the society as it is, and leaving the larger context unaddressed, misses the point entirely. The larger context being the preservation of the species through time, not just the preservation of current status quo.
Most of the proponents, on either side, want to keep things pretty much as they are, except for some minor adjustments to fit their own personal requirements. That's the real problem.
Throwing out the long-term-vision aspects of fundamentalism because the moral codes are too rigid and intolerant - without replacing them with something at least equally far-sighted - is the very mindless hedonistic selfishness the fundamentalists reject.
One-sentence shorter this:
Talking about whether or not gay marriage is bad for children in a culture that accepts car crashes as the number one cause of death for children is completely tangential.


No. The problem with arguing like this is that you have already bought into their worldview. Their fictional, edited, airbrushed, historically-revisionist Norman-Rockwell (but-only-the-Post-covers-Rockwell) fakey Goode Olde Dayes vision of a past that never was.

Premarital sex? Splitting up? Shacking up? Inner-city squalor? Crime of all sorts?

Sounds like my white working-class western-European immigrant ancestors and relatives, right up into the 1960s and 70s.

Sounds like Gin Lane, and old Paris, and Berlin in 1910, and pretty much *every* big city that ever was, whenever.

The country life also has its moral squalor, and not just the "ether frolics" of the 1800s, when cheap drugs and depressed, bored rural youngsters made a bad mix, headier than moonshine, and this too is all documented and ignored. What else was there to *do* for teens and their parents in medieval England, except get drunk and go screwing under the haystack? Coroners' reports of the day show that alcohol and crossbows don't mix, either.

What is not recognized - by anyone, including many of the conservatives who defend "traditional values" - is that there is a tremendous classism involved in the false claims of "things were better then," as well as massive airbrushing and playing numbers games. It compares/contrasts the lives of narrow slices of the middle-class and bourgoisie, with *everyone*, as well as compare/contrast of a smaller population with a larger.

Go spend three days in the reference section of a decent library over the microfilms, reading the daily papers from any good sized Industrial Revolution city in any decade of the 1800s you choose, up through 1940, and you will come away with a *very* different view of how much "better" things were for kids, and their parents, back then. Crime, squalor, massive angst over the ceaseless decline of civilization all of it caused by uppity women - you'll think you picked up a copy of Murdoch's Post.

The Navigator

The most serious version of Gallagher's point wasn't made by Gallagher but rather by Cathy Young here. Young also has two more recent posts on the topic. (Sorry if someone mentioned this in comments to the previous post - I haven't waded through those yet and may not get the chance...)

bob mcmanus

I remember thirty years ago when conservatives would attack feminism as inevitably destroying the family and society as we know it, and I would say "Of course."

There is something deeply conservative about the proponents of gay marriage wanting their right to a traditional role in a traditional society. Like Roman Catholic lesbian priests or Marxist daytraders.

There is no slippery slope;the Enlightenment, liberalism, modernism is a cliff where we are hanging to the edge with our fingernails. Marx understood, read the Manifesto on marriage. Just let go.

Trying to preserve the ancient institutions for their own sake is a futile and destructive process. It indirectly supports the entire structure and lends value to Intelligent Design and war. When the Enlightenment is internalized everything solid will turn into air. Get over it.


I haven't waded through those yet and may not get the chance

some navigator you are :-p


"Secondly, to the extent that I am flip or blasé about the gay marriage question, it is because I think it is totally inevitable, and soon, too. The Gallaghers of the world have already lost this battle."

I'm curious why you think this, given that everytime gay marriage has been put to a vote, it has been soundly trounced (I think in 11 states the last election cycle). Is it because
1) you think those elections are not an accurate portrayal of people's views, either now or in the future? that society, and people's views, will evolve away from them? If so, why?
2) You think gay marriage will be imposed by the courts?
3) some other reason?



I think you're assertion that the only thing stopping us from "sliding all the way down the slippery slope" is Burkean hand-waving. But that assumes that there exists a point where we *should* halt "the slide," though we have no good reason to. And you never demonstrated a plausible justification for believing such a point exists. The hypos you drew in the earlier argument fell well short of the job.


I think your assertion is... forgot what I was gonna write... unconvincing?

Uncle Kvetch

I want to thank Belle for this. Her reframing of the issue in this post has made it much easier for me to locate that "something argumentish floating around here" that she was driving at--and given that, I agree that it's a discussion that's well worth having.

though I would say the vast majority of anti-SSM people are motivated by simple prejudice and hatred of Teh Gay, there are some people of good will who do not think gay sex should be illegal, who even support civil unions, but who still think that the institution of marriage is an important one and radical changes to it should be regarded with extreme skepticism.

I will readily concede that I was way too sweeping about this. I've read Russell Arben Fox's comments on various sites and I don't believe for a minute that his uneasiness with SSM is driven by bigotry. Nor do I think he is unique in this respect. In my general crankiness and frustration yesterday I pretty much painted every SSM opponent, top to bottom, with the bigotry brush, and that was wrong.

Secondly, to the extent that I am flip or blasé about the gay marriage question, it is because I think it is totally inevitable, and soon, too.

From your mouth to God's ear, Belle. I'm not nearly so sanguine (I wouldn't be a kvetch if I were, now would I?). I'm 41 and I think the chance of SSM (not civil unions, NB) being legalized nationally in the US in my lifetime is about 50/50.

To get down to brass tacks:

1. The change SSM advocates propose is a radical one, and we can't be sure exactly what will happen.

True, to a certain point. My response to this is to point out that there's a question of degree, or scale, that makes the anti-SSM position questionable. Marriage has been subject to any number of radical changes over the past several generations, many of whose real-world implications simply dwarf the "radicalness" of SSM. No-fault divorce, greater equality for women under the law and in the workplace, prenups, increasing numbers of married couples remaning childless by choice, increasing numbers of couples cohabitating (and raising children) outside of marriage--add it all up and you have a massive transformation of the most fundamental notions of marriage and family in our society. In that context, it's very hard to see just what it is so particularly radical about SSM that people like Maggie Gallagher choose it as the place to draw a line in the sand. And Belle pretty much recognizes that her argument yesterday (and Gallagher's) would be much more appropriately directed at changing divorce laws than at opposing SSM. SSM may represent a radical change in the definition of marriage, at a semantic level, but its actual effects on the institution in the real world are bound to be miniscule compared to the tectonic shifts already in motion.

Look at it this way: Britney Spears' 48-hour "marriage" pretty much made a mockery of whatever definition of marriage you might choose to proceed from. It resulted in a lot of spilled tabloid ink and late-night TV snark, along with some tut-tutting from the professional moralizers, but nothing remotely like the moral panic that the spectre of SSM raises in some quarters (and that the right has been able to mobilize to great political advantage). Doesn't that make you wonder?

2. Progressive reformers may rightly oppose slippery slope arguments on the grounds that we won't slide all the way down to the bad result. However, the only plausible societal mechanism to stop us is...handwaving Burkean conservatives. [...] So, do not immediately discount "arguments" of this non-argument sort; you are yourself committed to a view on which at some time this check on the slope should actually work to stop a proposed change.

My problem here is that the premise that "progressive = change is good; conservative = change is bad" is so reductive as to be meaningless. As a progressive/lefty/whatever, I find myself "fighting change," waving my hands, and standing athwart history yelling "Stop!" over any number of issues. Since the beginning of the "Reagan revolution," we on the left in the US have been in the position of resisting attempts to roll back such fundamental principles as progressive taxation and the (minimal) safety net established by the New Deal. The whole environmental movement could be considered "conservative" if you look at it from the right angle. So to suggest that SSM proponents might be so enamored of "change for change's sake" that they can't appreciate the value of caution strikes me as off-base.

"Ah," says the Burkean, "but to defend progressive taxation is to defend a relatively recent innovation, not an institution as old as human society itself--you're comparing apples & oranges!" And to this I think bellatrys gives the best response: the Burkean argument is unpersuasive because it posits "unchanging" "universals" that are, in fact, neither. It's not just that Maggie Gallagher's ideal of marriage is just that--an ideal, not a description of marriage as it's ever actually existed. It's also that this ideal is itself is very recent. It's been pointed out repeatedly that in most societies for most of human history, marriage was about neither child-rearing nor individual fulfillment; it was essentially a commercial transaction, an exchange of property between two households. The concept of progressive taxation may only be 100 years old or so, but so, for that matter, is "marriage as we know it." So the appeal to history and "tradition" on the part of the Burkeans falls flat, in my view.

I hope this isn't too messy; I'd planned to spend more time and care on it but there are, ahem, some other things floating around the blogosphere this afternoon that are sucking up all my attention. 8^)

Again, I want to thank Belle for accepting criticism graciously and striving for a productive dialogue. It's something I often fail to do myself, but it's an example we'd all do well to follow.

No Nym

Belle said: "This is not high school debate club, so I'm sorry."

Don't apologize. Winning this debate will require an accurate model of conservatarian opinion. Your bizzarro post highlighted those points that have actual information content (Though Orin Kerr has a much shorter version).

The remaining question is how anti-SSM advocates would modify or redact your argument. Once that is done, we know precisely what they are saying and can approach it from whatever perspective is necessary.

It's also nice to see at least someone among liberals is willing and able to try to see things from the other side, rather than simply asking, "What's wrong with Kansas?"

No cocoons here.


"Secondly, to the extent that I am flip or blasé about the gay marriage question, it is because I think it is totally inevitable..."

I'm curious why you think this, given that everytime gay marriage has been put to a vote, it has been soundly trounced (I think in 11 states the last election cycle). Is it because
1) you think those elections are not an accurate portrayal of people's views, either now or in the future? that society, and people's views, will evolve away from them? If so, why?


We know that same-sex marriage initiatives have been defeated in [almost] all votes [in this country], but I think that will change. Every survey on the subject that I've seen or heard of shows clear and large generational differences. Something like 80% of the 65 and over crowd opposes SSM, but about 80% of the under 18 crowd supports it. I'm pulling those numbers out of my ass, but that's the rough pattern in polls.

Change is happening, thanks to many factors, one of which is activism that has been successful in changing public opinion, even if less so in producing electoral results. Not to say that trends couldn't reverse for some reason, but the trend is there.


Belle, who favors same-sex marriage, nonetheless says that this is one of the most compelling anti-SSM arguments:

The change SSM advocates propose is a radical one, and we can't be sure exactly what will happen. The last time a radical change to marriage was enacted on the grounds of maximizing individual liberty and happiness it turned out to be a disaster from a broader point of view, and especially for children.

Even if Belle is just playing devil's advocate here, I think it's worth responding.

First of all, it's not clear that civil recognition of same-sex marriage is itself a radical change. I've argued in the past that SSM is just a relatively small side effect of two genuinely radical long-term trends. The first radical change is feminism's defeat of "separate spheres" ideology: Now that it's no longer true that women and men fulfill two strictly-bounded, separate roles, the rule that only women may marry men and vice-versa has lost its logical basis in our society.

The second radical change is the gay rights movement, which has made huge stides towards acceptance of the equal humanity and dignity of lesbian and gay relationships.

It is these two radical trends - which effect so much more than just marriage - which have made SSM a real possibilty in our society. And although it's certainly true that we "can't be sure exactly what will happen" due to those two radical (and still ongoing) changes, it seems unlikely that either of these trends can be stopped just by opposing same-sex marriage.

Second, the most recent "radical change to marriage" wasn't no-fault divorce; it was the near-total elimination of the marrital exemption to rape laws. Although like all changes to marriage, this change was in the works for years before it led to a change in law, most of the actual modifications of the relevant laws took place in the 80s and 90s.

Is it possible for someone who takes the anti-SSM arguments seriously to justify the elimination of the marital rape exemption? I'm not sure it is. The Burkean hand-waving approach (short version: we can't be sure that unintended effects of any change won't be bad, so all change is bad) would clearly weigh against outlawing marital rape; making it illegal for husbands to rape their wives significantly changed the rules of every existing marriage, with who knew what results? And giving wives the right to refuse sex with their husbands strongly suggests that marriage is not only about procreation, but also includes concern for what's good for adults - exactly the view of marriage that same-sex marriage opponents always say they oppose.

Finally, contrary to the conventional wisdom, no-fault divorce wasn't an unmitigated disaster. To this day, social scientists argue about no-fault's impact; many empirical studies have either found that no-fault divorce laws had no effect on long-term divorce rates, or had only a relatively small effect.

More importantly, no-fault divorce has literally been a lifesaver for some abused women. Even if we assume that no-fault divorce increased the divorce rate, its benefits may still outweigh its negatives.


Whoops! Cut-and-paste error, sorry - I meant to put a reasonable-length version of my response to you here in your comments, and put a long version here. But what I pasted here was my entire blog post. I'm sorry about that.


It was an excellent argument, and there's nothing to apologize for in having made it.

Relying on SSM-opponents failing to arrive at a good argument is not strategy but contempt, and no way to persuade.

If you're worried that your argument may be misused, then write a rebuttal and analysis - certainly that's what I expected was to come when I saw the initial post.

Juke Moran

bellatrys, your "No" possibly being directed at me with the ensuing Norman Rockwell Post-cover takedown following - it's hard to tell, but just in case -
It isn't nostalgia. I'm not defending anything that's on offer from either side. I'm saying the more accurate reading of the opposition stance is that they aren't sort of vaguely opposed to same-sex anything particularly, they're fighting for their lives.
They're being directed to hate and despise "gays" and "drugs" and "terrorists", just as they were directed to despise "communists" 40 years ago. There's nothing innate about the focus of their intolerance. It's Biblical, yes, sort of, but really it's more a result of demogoguery than adherence to dogma.
One of the major flaws there is the assumption that what the other side is saying is central to their position.
That they mean what they say.
I think it's more like they can sense some things they can't articulate and these issues become symbolic.
This same mistake informs the evolution/creation debate. They don't believe in evolution, they believe, like virtually every other creature here, in staying alive, and that means as reproductive creatures ensuring the well-being of their offspring.
We do that in large groups in which not all members are reproductively active, and we've been like that for hundreds of thousands of years. We've also been evolving in many other ways all that time too.
One of the conceits is that humanity has been evolutionarily static for quite some time. It is not so.
As Ampersand said:
"Now that it's no longer true that women and men fulfill two strictly-bounded, separate roles, the rule that only women may marry men and vice-versa has lost its logical basis in our society..."
My point has nothing to do with a "return" to anything in the past - when men and women fulfilled two strictly-bounded anythings, other than the necessary division of labor against the ferocity of hostile environments.
An illusion we've created, that the human artificial environment is stable and permanent and the natural has been tamed for all time, is fragmenting right now in full view of everyone.
Something I don't think Hollywood, for all its disaster-whoopie is preparing us to meet.
This prosperity is not some permanent evolutionary achievement of the human race, it's a cultural phenomenon made possible by a rate of resource consumption that's the societal equivalent of a crack-cocaine binge.
It isn't going to stay like this too much longer. And then the surplus and abundance won't be there, and the necessity for something like gender-roles will. I assume that's what you interpret as Rockwell-yearning. But it isn't. And it has nothing to do with any religious custom being more "true" or "right" than any other way of being.
But understanding the causes of these things, and the way they may seem superfluous and archaic in this immediate and probably temporary context, makes them look less foolish and destructive. For their adherents.
That's the real dilemma. "Saved" in this meaning "alive".
The bigots and obstinate believers are dug in not to save face or out of inane stubbornness, but because their chances of survival are bettered by where they are. They may be wrong, but there's nothing to show them that in an argument strictly from rights and logic. Almost everyone, when pushed to it, will jettison rights and logic to survive. It's what makes those who don't, who refuse to, heroic.
Years ago, when I saw that painting of the Navajo at the dam I saw dystopia just over the horizon.
A parallel argument gets thrown against the idea of local self-sufficient power. "A return to the horse-drawn days of a bucolic peace that never existed".
Horse-and-buggy equals racist misogynist ignorance. Amish luddism with segregated drinking fountains.
As though only this way was possible and everything else, every other path would have halted right where it was truncated by the rush toward petrochemical combustion.
As though to have an end to racism we have to accept the ubiquity of SUV's.
No. It could have gone a myriad of ways. Many much better than this.
And it isn't going to stay like this much longer.
That was my point about Shariah law. It's not a defense, but it's also not a condemnation. Anything short of condemnation in this would-be Judeo-Christian theocracy gets seen as praise but that's not my problem. There isn't much difference between the idiocies of Biblical injunction and the idiocies of Koranic injunction in a street fight. Which in case you weren't looking, is kind of what's up these days.
It isn't a "clash of civilizations" or ideologies. It's people, fighting for dominance, because dominance ensures survival.
That's why those things exist. They enable survival. Survival's what it's about.
It's what the demand for SSM is about, and it's what the opposition to it's about. Everything gets cloaked in the jargon of ethics and logic but underneath is the same old struggle.
To live.

Jacob T. Levy

Add me to the "Belle was right the first time" camp. First, there's something important for civil democratic politics in trying to engage better versions of one's opponents views-- especially when one's opponents are the [I agree, temporary] majority. And second, there's something really, importantly true in this:

Progressive reformers may rightly oppose slippery slope arguments on the grounds that we won't slide all the way down to the bad result. However, the only plausible societal mechanism to stop us is...handwaving Burkean conservatives. Thus progressives must accept as a logical point that these people will at some point be right. Thus we must consider their hand-waving thoughtfully, even though it lacks argumentative merit in many ways.

(That's the best paragraph of political theory I've read this week.) The Burkean stuff can be simultaneously hard to construct as an argument and socially valuable-- so I think Belle's exercise is an especially important one when the view being engaged with is of that Burkean sort.

And, frankly, there was sheer beauty in reading Belle's post, comparing it to 3+ years of dreck from Stanley Kurtz, Clayton Cramer, and Maggie Gallagher, and realizing all over again how embarrassingly bad all that dreck was. Commentators in effect accused Belle of giving aid and comfort to the enemy (a worrisome stance to begin with). But didn't you see how badly she humiliated them? That she did so civilly makes it all the sweeter...

belle waring

thanks Jacob! I do think I kicked their butts on that one. pretty embarassing, given that I think they're totally wrong and I only thought about it for a week;) stay tuned for the refutation...


How's this for a reasonable argument against "same sex marriage":

It's a fucking oxymoron.

What's next? Resurrectionist executions? Consensual rape?

"Same sex marriage" boosters want to destroy marriage so they can redefine it so it suits them.

It doesn't. Two people of the same sex can't be married...that's inherent in the definition of marriage.

Find something else to pervert, why don't they?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Email John & Belle

  • he.jpgjholbo-at-mac-dot-com
  • she.jpgbbwaring-at-yahoo-dot-com

Google J&B

J&B Archives

Buy Reason and Persuasion!

S&O @ J&B

  • www.flickr.com
    This is a Flickr badge showing items in a set called Squid and Owl. Make your own badge here.

Reason and Persuasion Illustrations

  • www.flickr.com

J&B Have A Tipjar

  • Search Now:

  • Buy a couple books, we get a couple bucks.
Blog powered by Typepad

J&B Have A Comment Policy

  • This edited version of our comment policy is effective as of May 10, 2006.

    By publishing a comment to this blog you are granting its proprietors, John Holbo and Belle Waring, the right to republish that comment in any way shape or form they see fit.

    Severable from the above, and to the extent permitted by law, you hereby agree to the following as well: by leaving a comment you grant to the proprietors the right to release ALL your comments to this blog under this Creative Commons license (attribution 2.5). This license allows copying, derivative works, and commercial use.

    Severable from the above, and to the extent permitted by law, you are also granting to this blog's proprietors the right to so release any and all comments you may make to any OTHER blog at any time. This is retroactive. By publishing ANY comment to this blog, you thereby grant to the proprietors of this blog the right to release any of your comments (made to any blog, at any time, past, present or future) under the terms of the above CC license.

    Posting a comment constitutes consent to the following choice of law and choice of venue governing any disputes arising under this licensing arrangement: such disputes shall be adjudicated according to Canadian law and in the courts of Singapore.

    If you do NOT agree to these terms, for pete's sake do NOT leave a comment. It's that simple.

  • Confused by our comment policy?

    We're testing a strong CC license as a form of troll repellant. Does that sound strange? Read this thread. (I know, it's long. Keep scrolling. Further. Further. Ah, there.) So basically, we figure trolls will recognize that selling coffee cups and t-shirts is the best revenge, and will keep away. If we're wrong about that, at least someone can still sell the cups and shirts. (Sigh.)