Core Values, Political Tactics, and Religious Liberty

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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167 Responses

  1. Avatar Will Truman
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    says:

    I find myself disagreeing. Definitely on the particular, maybe on the abstract.

    In the particular, I find the notion that TEC’s religious liberty was infringed upon to be quite weak. The Episcopal Church was still allowed to conduct wedding ceremonies. It was just that the state didn’t recognize them. I don’t view the state’s failure to recognize that ceremony any more of an infringement than its current unwillingness to recognize plural marriages, or the arranged marriage of a two year old. They can have their ceremony, but the state won’t recognize it.

    Which does mean that the right to religious liberty and license is not absolute. But an argument does not have to be absolute to be an argument.

    Religious liberty is a thing. Not just something exclusively brought out when convenient and put away when not. Even very ardent supporters of gay marriage believe that the Catholic Church has the right to decline to conduct such ceremonies. And not just because the courts have said so.

    What we’re left with, which is what we’re so often left with, are competing values. It’s certainly no surprise that people often tend to view religious liberty differently (and as more important) when it’s either their own values or the values of people they are sympathetic to. People who live next to nature bird sanctuaries tend to have a much greater appreciation for conservationism over development (two other competing values).

    This doesn’t make the argument itself invalid, no matter how cynically deployed. The argument, and the counter-argument, have their own merits on which to be judged.

    Dreher is being silly, as he often is when it comes to such matters. But the arguments do not always rely on such things. We can point to individuals and argue that this person is being silly and that person is being disingenuous. That doesn’t actually say a whole lot about the value of the argument itself.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      I don’t think this post is dismissive of the argument – it’s dismissive of the *advocates* who, at best, have used the argument irregularly in the past.

      The flip side of the this is the cowardice and cynicism of a number of elected leaders currently in power who only have arrived as SSM supporters and/or are all-in on LGBT*.* rights well after the political winds have shifted, and it no longer costs anything to be on that side (and costs something to still be on the heretofore pro-DOMA side)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        That’s why I said “maybe” on the abstract. I still think that may still veer too close to equating the cause to many of its advocates.

        The thing about Indiana is that it has a lot of people spooked, including some non-Christian and pro-ssm folks. Dreher is saying what he’s always said (coming for our Christmas trees, etc), but he’s got a bigger audience now on that front. I’m hoping it will pass in time.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Spooked in what way? Pro-ssm worried about backlash from overreach? I’m not seeing it. If anything, Dreher’s audience is smaller than ever, exactly because casual anti-gay bigotry is at its lowest point of acceptably in American history. (which, to be clear, is a far different thing than saying it’s absent)Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kolohe
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          says:

          Spooked of the implications of religious and/or freedom and what becomes of the conscientious objectors. They tend towards right-libertarian types and secular conservatives. (I will confess to having been a bit unnerved by parts of it, though not anywhere in the same league as some others, who are losing their minds.)Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Ok, I understand you now. Matt Welch is still fighting the good fight, but as for me, I’m just fishin tired of carrying water for the social-cons anymore as part of an ostensible ‘liberty coalition’.Report

    • Avatar Dand in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      The Episcopal Church was still allowed to conduct wedding ceremonies. It was just that the state didn’t recognize them.

      In believe that’s illegal in most states, at least if they call it a wedding.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      Will: “In the particular, I find the notion that TEC’s religious liberty was infringed upon to be quite weak. The Episcopal Church was still allowed to conduct wedding ceremonies. It was just that the state didn’t recognize them. I don’t view the state’s failure to recognize that ceremony any more of an infringement than its current unwillingness to recognize plural marriages, or the arranged marriage of a two year old. They can have their ceremony, but the state won’t recognize it.”

      This can be restated a number of ways:

      1) The Greens (owner of Hobbly Lobby, a corporation), can have religious objections to birth control, but the state doesn’t have to recognize those, or grant the *corporation* special exemptions from the law.

      2) Business owners can have religious objections to certain services provided to ,blacks hispanics uppity women unpopular religious minorities gays and lesbians, but the state doesn’t have to recognize those, or grant special exemptions from the law.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Barry
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        says:

        For them to be comparable, the government would have to threaten to revoke all of TEC’s marrying privileges. What makes the situations different, in my view, is that in your scenarios, it is imposing a performance requirement (or prohibition) under threat of penalty or loss of privilege. This is sometimes justified, sometimes not, but on a different playing field than non-conforming TEC marriages not being recognized.

        (I thought the government was pretty justified in HL, but would have been unjustified had they threatened to revoke HL’s business license, charged a million dollar fine per employee, or something else extreme.)Report

  2. Avatar aaron david
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    says:

    “How, one might reasonably ask, can all of these people — who so deeply value religious liberty for everyone — have worked so hard to deny those same liberties to my family’s church? The answer, of course, is that religious liberty never was a value they held dear, no matter what they tell themselves today. Rather, it is and always has been just a tactic used in order to win a political battle they really, really wanted to win.”

    Tod, here is where you loose me. You are assuming that the things that your church proposes are valued equally. As you well know, there is a reason that there are as many versions of Christianity as there are believers. I would suggest trying to actually learn why they believe these things, and then why they feel that what they believe is more important than what you believe. In other words they place a higher value on what they believe is sacred, and a lower value on fairness, which you believe is sacred.

    “They may complain that the country’s values have changed from protecting first amendment rights to the rule of the mob, but in fact the country’s values are unchanged in this regard. In fact, you can argue that to no small degree Republicans and conservatives are where they are today because they were so successful in getting buy-in from people on the values they claimed were important yesterday. They spent a decade preaching loudly that the Will of the Majority was a Sacred Value that must trump the rights of the minority; the extreme backlash against Pence and other champions of the now-minoirty opinion on gay right suggests that they were very, very successful in hammering home that Value.”

    Maybe you could show your work here? You know, quotes and such to back up what you say they are saying?

    I am not even remotely religious. Could not care less about god or jesus. But when you wrote a post, telling me that the R’s were lying here https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2013/10/04/the-10-biggest-lies-being-told-about-the-government-shutdown and a simple look showed that they weren’t lying, but that they had different values than you. And that same issue shows in this post.

    You move so quickly to calling them liars that I can only feel that you have no idea what they believe in.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to aaron david
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      says:

      “Maybe you could show your work here? You know, quotes and such to back up what you say they are saying?”

      I give you the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, where, if it was not religious liberty was put aside, then definitely any principles that lean towards federalism and state sovereignty were jettisoned like so much blue water.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Federalism is definitely a thing that is used cynically, but is still a thing.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        yes, I agree. But the problem is that federalism/state sovereignty has mostly been used – that is, mostly been used somewhat sucessfully – only in the most odious of political causes.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kolohe
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          says:

          Federalism’s biggest obstacle is sometimes its allies, but it has done good elsewhere when implicitly utilized (gay marriage actually being an example) and I still see a lot of value in the concept. Rhetorically, there is a problem of who uses it and when (especially for terms like state rights/sovereignty, which I avoid for both strategic and ideological reasons) , but I go batty when people tell me nobody actually believes in federalism.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        @kolohe
        Maybe Tod should have put that in. But he didn’t.

        My point is mostly that I don’t think Tod really understands what the other side wants. And in the process, it kinda seems that Tod is doing the same thing that he accuses them of.

        I am down with SSM. I am also down with someone saying “I want no part of that.” As I am sure you can guess, this is not an easy position to hold right now and I am looking for a way to square that circle. Tod isn’t helping.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe
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        If Federalism were a thing that mattered, the section of DOMA that forbade federal recognition of marriages that were valid in the states where they took place would have been overturned 9-0, not 5-4 on the whim of Tony Kennedy.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Fair enough, Mr. David. How about the Disney boycott in the 90s, when that corporation (merely) provided domestic partner bennefits? Is that a fair representation of what ‘the other side’ wants?Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        @kolohe
        (It took me a minute to figure out who you were talking to, as David is my middle name.)

        Again, Tod hasn’t made that argument. And for what it is worth, I don’t disagree with it. But what Tod seems to be saying is that the totality of the argument is just tactics. And while I don’t agree with the argument, I think that is bullshit. And because Tod isn’t backing up his argument with anything other than his church disagreeing with it, I feel that it is bullshit for the exact same reasons that I used in the other thread. Tod doesn’t understand the (religious) right, doesn’t understand that they value different things than he does.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        When was there a filibuster-proof majority for that?

        The Supreme Court, on the other hand, (we are told) makes its decisions by applying Constitutional principles. Of which federalism is one that’s so basic to strict constructional jurisprudence that it’s applied whenever convenient.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Since I know what I think, I’ll go ahead and chime in here before letting everyone get back to discussing this better than I can…

        FTR, I do not think that it is impossible to have religious liberty be a core value; further, I also stipulate that many people — especially people who tend to think a lot about such things in their spare time, such as most people who write and comment at OT — do, in fact, find religious liberty to be a core value.

        That being said…

        Those people are not the people who drove the anti-ssm/gay rights battles of the past decade, nor are the the most public faces who are using religious liberty card and doing kick-starter campaigns for pizzeria owners today.

        In fact, I’ll put my vote where my mouth is: If there is any GOP POTUS candidate who speaks up about religious liberty now that didn’t advocate for a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriages a few years ago, I will vote for them not only in the primary but in the general, regardless of their other positions and who they run against; I will also donate all of my 2016 election money (usually about $500 in total) to that campaign. And the reason I feel like I can go out on this limb is because it ain’t going to happen.

        In fact, I can think of one single lone example to this: Glenn Beck, who plays the anti-gov religious liberty card now but also played it six years ago when he was the sole pro-SSM guy at Fox.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Wouldn’t have mattered if they did, because it would have been shot down a lot faster than the Medicaid expansion requirement was.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Aaron,

        Tod doesn’t understand the (religious) right, doesn’t understand that they value different things than he does.

        I think this sorta begs the question (which you’ve accused Tod of begging), namely, Tod’s argument seems to be that if we take these folks at their word, then consistency sorta demands that they allow for the free exercise of other religious expressions. But they don’t (or so it’s argued). So religious freedom full stop apparently isn’t what they’re interested in. The freedom to engage in their own religious practices, even to the point of prohibiting other religious folk from their practices, is.

        So, his argument that it’s about tactics more than religious freedom is at least compelling and distinctly not question-begging. (Adding, the view that such a claim is question begging amounts to a tacit concession that any action justified by “religious belief” deserves accomodation. Which is super-Sherbert spread over everything.)Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Those people are not the people who drove the anti-ssm/gay rights battles of the past decade, nor are the the most public faces who are using religious liberty card and doing kick-starter campaigns for pizzeria owners today.

        That’s an indictment against those specific people and against the party for which they speak and to which they belong. I do think, though, if someone invokes religious freedom in a specific instance where that person thinks their religious freedom is being abridged, it would be wrong to decline to honor that freedom claim simply because that person is a bold-faced hypocrite. I don’t think you’re doing that and I don’t think you’re saying you approve of doing that. But that is one reason why I join will in pushing back a little against some of what you say here.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        @tod-kelly
        Well Tod, I don’t think you should ever vote for someone just to prove a point, nor give money to. That said, I understand what you are saying, as I feel it about the left at this point. I only ask that you specifically show me how Drehr et al have changed their mind about SSM, and how that leads to today’s situation. The same with various politicians. I think the disconnect is the term Religious Freedom. They have never been cool with SSM, and will likely never be. As the number of churches that approved of SSM over the years was increadibly small, they seem to be taking that as the point of this religious freedom.

        That probably seems hypocritical to you.

        Just as from their eyes your love of tolerance not extended to them.

        And you are both right. Both sides are being hypocritical in this, ’cause that is how sides act. But that really doesn’t matter, as only partisans care. What people do care about is feeling like they are important. So we will have fights like this for a long time.

        One thing to keep in mind, as @will-truman points to above, is that in claiming that the right is simply using this to win a battle, and not something they truly believe, you really need to show that that is what they are doing, and do so in a way that is a sincere representation of their beliefs. That might win you points with one side, but it wont convince the other side to actually look at what they are doing. We can point to the passage of DOMA and RFRA and see who voted for them, and what they are saying today. I don’t think we will see much difference in the positions of those on the one side as we will see for the other. And that matters.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        In Canada right now there’s been a number of kerfuffles over the wearing of hijab and/or niqab in various circumstances. The present Conservative government, who created the Office of Religious Freedom within the Department of Foreign Affairs, because religious freedom is so very very important to them, have been fighting bitterly against allowing Muslim women in Canada to take their citizenship oaths while veiled. Because “Canadian values” apparently trump religious freedom, at least that of Muslim women.

        So, another test perhaps: Can you picture any of these religious freedom defending Conservatives standing up staunchly for the right of Muslim women to take their citizenship oath while veiled, of Rastafarians to cultivate and consume cannabis, of Brazilian animists to cultivate, prepare, and consume ayahuasca?Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to aaron david
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      says:

      Well, one thing to look at here is the religious defenses of non-Christian religions. RFRA is supposed to be rooted in Native American religions and peyote use; but in fact, it’s that imprisoning a some exercising that faith that led Catholics to be concerned about minors receiving the sacrament of wine.

      Or attempts to make Sharia illegal; as if there were some movement afoot to make Sharia an actual law beyond community norms within Muslim communities.

      I think, for many conservative Christians, it’s no about religious freedom so much as their freedom for their particular expression.Report

  3. Avatar James K
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    says:

    A good observation Tod, very Robin Hanson.

    To go on a bit of a tangent, the problem I have with the religious liberty argument (whether it is sincerely held or not), is that there is a world of difference between a conception of religious freedom that, say mandates or prohibits certain religions and granting exemptions for religious people to generally-applicable laws. It seems to me that there is either a compelling reason for a law to exist, or there is not. If there is a compelling reason, everyone needs to obey it, if there is not no one should have to obey it.

    The end result is to privilege a specific class of beliefs. If you have a reasoned objection to a law that’s tough, but if your god tells you you can’t do it (and we just have to trust you that your god said that, obviously) then sure you can have an exemption.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    In other words, my family is not some johnny-come-lately group of pretenders who publicly claim that church is important but can’t be bothered to attend because football is on

    Because until a few years ago, it was “On no, the Seahawks are on. What else can I .. right, church!”Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    There’s a riddle in the Game of Thrones books given by Varys.

    In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it,’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it,’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it,’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’ So tell me – who lives and who dies?

    What we see here are the sellswords who would listen to the priest being upset at sellswords who would follow one of the other two being ascendant.

    Or, I suppose, sellswords who follow different priests entirely being ascendant.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      This is an easy analogy to believe but it relies too much upon greed to really illuminate.

      The right being requested here is to turn down business, after all. More importantly, it’s to make business an expression of belief. The Greens believe so deeply that they get to say some contraceptives cause abortions when, science says, they do not.

      What really matters here is the right of businesses to speak; to express. WalMart exercised that right; but their use wasn’t for religious expression, it was for profit motive. Unintended consequences and all that. Some in some cases, the sell sword will accept the rich merchant’s offer over the king or priest.

      But the whole point of expression is that it might go to another way; to the king out of loyalty or patriotism, to the priest out of religious fervor. And it’s not just the sell sword who’s doing that expression, but the sell sword’s business, Sell-Swords-R-Us.

      So no, for comedic relief, imagine the inner conflicts. “But I need to obey my priest, my eternal soul hangs in the balance,” the Sell Sword says.

      “Yes,” his conscience answers, “but the wife’s pregnant again, the elder child needs her dowry, the younger to begin his schooling. Plus the roof leaks again, and the cistern’s tasting of mildew.”

      “But the glory,” his ego answers, “of serving the King and being knighted. People would call me Sir, and I might get a grant of land once owned by some fool who betrayed the king.”

      And they go round and round and round.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic
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        says:

        While there is, to some degree, a “who can deliver?” question that will probably hover in the back of the mind of the sellsword (and old-fashioned materialism knows that gods are fickle if they exist at all, knighthood depends on other people recognizing your claim, but gold is gold is gold is gold is gold) but there’s also the whole “where do my loyalties lie?” question.

        Does it lie with The State? Does it lie with Moral Codes? Does it lie with money money money?

        I mean, if we look at how we, as a society, work… who would we, as a society, tell the sellsword to listen to? It seems to me that we, as a society, know that kings are b.s. We have merchants and we have priests. (It’s just that some of the priests don’t call themselves that anymore.)Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic
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        says:

        I thought the point of the story was (trying to quote from memory), “power is an illusion, a group of shadows that dance along the wall. Power resides where people think it resides”.

        So, at any given point, for any given person, loyalties can lie anywhere. Forgeting this, and thinking you have some god-given (or wealth given, or politically given) right to power will lead to your downfall.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic
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        says:

        Well, if we want to get into “who has the power?”, it’s obviously not the king, the priest, or the merchant but in the man who holds the sword.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to zic
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        says:

        The power is never in the hand that holds the sword, but the mind that holds the want. Whether for want of money, a priest or a king.

        That’s why freedom to many is more about comfort than struggle.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    The thing I find …

    I can’t find the right word. Hypocritical? Odious? Idiotic? Pretend that there’s a word that combines all three.

    The thing I find hypodiotic about Dreher’s current ranting, is that after a decade of scorched-earth attacks on gay rights, outlawing not only marriage, but civil unions and domestic partnerships, he’s feeling persecuted because the other side isn’t eager to accept compromises they were never offered until now.Report

  7. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    I gotta re-read the dang thing, but this jumped out at me:

    it represents the culmination of the sexual revolution, the goal of which was to make individual desire the sole legitimate arbiter in defining sexual truth.

    Sexual truth? Just saying it makes me giggle.

    Alright, enough fun. Re-reading now.Report

  8. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    Does the entire Episcopal Church agree on gay rights? I had thought there was a split (but I’m not sure, and even if there was, it’s not particularly relevant.)

    I think I agree with @will-truman above, although I take to heart @kolohe ‘s point that the OP is more against the particular people crying “religious freedom.” Even then, it’s still, as Will says, an argument.

    I’m undecided on the law, and haven’t read the Vox piece yet that Mark referred us to a while ago. I’ve read the actual law, however, and a few other places, including James Hanley’s summary of the law, which I recommend.

    As for the Oregon example (about which I’m ignorant outside of Tod’s explanation), it seems to me there are at least two things going on. One is it’s an example where the Republicans didn’t want to die by the sword they tried to live by. They made the guy’s business acumen a campaign issue, and it bit them in the a$$. The second thing is that conservatives probably supported the Republican guy for other reasons and continued to support him for those reasons when the “good businessperson” trope fell short. I think it’s okay to charge the conservatives with inconsistency in the first instance, but I find it hard to fault them for the same when it comes to the second instance. The OP says the explanation for conservatives’ continuing fidelity to Sizemore is “simply this: Bill Sizemore was on their team, and what they really wanted was to win.” But as far as I can tell, he was “on their team” represents his stance on a lot of other issues and probably his likely management of the statehouse and whatever policies he would put forth.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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      There is a split, but it’s moved faster in the “pro” direction than the country did. While there is a degree of decentralization, the leadership is from the liberal wing and the conservative wing has been leaving.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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      says:

      It’s not just that Sizemore wasn’t a great businessman, it’s that he’d failed repeatedly. If the business acumen they’d been trumpeting were really important to them, that would be a negative, not a non-issue. And the research that documented those failures would be valuable information, not a hit job by the liberal media.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        That’s pretty much what I tried to say when I noted the “first thing” that story tells us and the results of not dying by the sword they tried to live by. I guess I wasn’t clear.

        I can still imagine that they supported Sizemore for other reasons than the (nonexistent) business acumen and that to reduce that support to team-playerism probably doesn’t capture all the reasons. Now that I write that, I guess my only disagreement with Tod, at least when it comes to his Oregon example, is that I wished he had fleshed out a little more what he meant by conservatives continuing to support a fellow conservative even though one element of his conservative bona fides was shown to be false.Report

  9. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    Is this really the best example? How about we look at, oh, I dunno, the conservative response to Islam as evidence of a complete disregard for religious liberty?

    People are unprincipled.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Nd invoking something as a Value is the equivalent of saying, “Hey… I don’t make the rules… I just enforce them.” It allows someone to shift his person feelings to something larger, something inherent.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      That’s unfair. Even if you totally believe in religious liberty, there are places where a mosque would be inappropriate. Like Tennessee.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        Yeah. While I consider it possible to be consistent siding with the caterer and against the Episcopal Church, the only explanation for opposing the construction of mosques and supporting the caterers is that based on either sectarianism or a convenience-based argument.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      That (the treatment of Islam, say in Manhattan or Tennessee) is definitely the best example.

      Tod’s example reminds me of the outlawing of bigamy among the LDS, except in that case they actually forced the LDS to stop performing the ceremonies at all. If anything, that last part is an intrusion on religious liberty (one no one seems particularly upset about, outside of fundamentalist Mormonism), while nothing up to that point, including the state failing to recognize polygamous marriages, would be. Religious liberty doesn’t mean the state has to license what every religion does in every domain, I don’t think.Report

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Good point that history shows there have been legal limits for at least 150 years at the federal level. Utah was essentially told abolish polygamy or we won’t admit you as a state. Before the civil war polygamy was one of the twin relics of barbarism.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      How about we look at, oh, I dunno, the conservative response to Islam as evidence of a complete disregard for religious liberty?

      I keep wanting to write some sort of Facebook post congratulating conservatives in Indiana for allowing Sharia law to override any state law unless that state law has a compelling interest.Report

  10. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Just as a point of clarification, you might want to note that Dreher is currently a member of the Orthodox Catholic Church, not the Roman Catholic one.Report

  11. Avatar Will H.
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    says:

    I’ll take this in order:

    1) Until gov’t has to start advertising its services due to direct competition in the marketplace, the correlation between owning or running a business and public administration is dubious at best.

    Aside:
    Pure gold:
    In politics, I would argue, most of the things we insist are core values are in fact just tactics we use in order to win arguments and influence others in order to get very specific things that we want today. If we see something else we want tomorrow, we will abandon those same core values without a thought — and I mean that literally, because even though sometimes we do it consciously, usually we aren’t even aware we’re doing it.

    Too deep for me to flesh out here, but I can lay out the skeleton.
    I would say there are reasons for that to be found inherent in the mechanics of party politics itself; incongruous coalitions struggling to achieve some modicum of consensus position, and inevitably failing, to some degree, on each occasion.

    2) I don’t read Dreher. And as long as you are around to do it for me, thank goodness I don’t have to.
    From what I’ve heard on the RFRA hubbub is that action brought under those statutes are typically prisoner’s rights cases. (Disclosure: NPR& the BBC are my main sources for news, though the blog from my college radio station is gaining popularity.) Anything in that direction defaults to favorable on my scale; this one I consider very good.
    Again, from what I can tell, all the hand-wringing in the gay direction is only so much more ginning of the offense mill. Everything is about gays, and mostly on the most tenuous of terms; e.g., if only my keyboard manufacturer was more stridently pro-LGBT, this little piece of plastic would have prevented me from writing the preceding sentence. (Disclosure: I am pro-BLT.)
    Although I really have nothing against gays, after so much it’s hard not to think, “Probably had it coming to them,” when I hear of some anti-gay reaction.
    Granted, I would probably think the same of muslims were they, as a group, so inured to continual proclaiming of their own victimhood. To their credit, muslims generally are more dignified as a people. And because of that, I would be more likely to take any such complaint from a muslim more seriously.
    Want to find out how misogynistic you are? Ask the mother of your children if she planned the hour of their birth prior to pregnancy. If the birth occurred without a spreadsheet and copious use of MS Project, this could well indicate the extent of her oppression. She might need “educated” as to how oppressed she is. (I see a business opportunity here, one involving mail-order products . . . )

    3) I don’t see anything wrong with an openly gay priest baptizing my godson while I oppose SSM as an enforceable right. I have no authority to make the man a priest.
    My own view on denominationalism supports the various fragments, and it would take too much virtual ink to spell out all the reasons why.
    That said, the current argument for SSM has nothing to do with religious freedom, or even protection of familial relations, but exclusively the right to contract.
    There have been too many protections in contract law built in to the system swept away in the past 25 years for me to favor seeing another one go. I’m sure elaboration will make me look like a smart-ass, so I’ll forgo that, and stick with curmudgeon for the time being.
    That said, I think familial relations is a winning argument.
    Religious freedom is something I staunchly defend.

    Good show.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will H.
      Ignored
      says:

      “Until gov’t has to start advertising its services due to direct competition in the marketplace,”

      Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe
        Ignored
        says:

        K,

        And if the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty currently being negotiated has anything to say about it, gummint is gonna have to compete with private courts adjudicating private contracts that pin losses and guarantees on state actors!

        Libertarian utopia, no?Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kolohe
        Ignored
        says:

        Toss in “Convincing legislators they can still make money without accepting bribes” as well.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will H.
      Ignored
      says:

      @will-h

      Again, from what I can tell, all the hand-wringing in the gay direction is only so much more ginning of the offense mill. Everything is about gays, and mostly on the most tenuous of terms; e.g., if only my keyboard manufacturer was more stridently pro-LGBT, this little piece of plastic would have prevented me from writing the preceding sentence. (Disclosure: I am pro-BLT.)
      Although I really have nothing against gays, after so much it’s hard not to think, “Probably had it coming to them,” when I hear of some anti-gay reaction.

      I’ve been trying to unpack this for a while. So far the best interpretation I can come up with is that you don’t mind lesbians, bisexuals, and transpeople but have issues with gay men.

      There are some interesting pathologies here. It is not just gay men that campaigned for SSM but also lesbian couples and transpeople. It is not just gay men who dislike and protested against the Indiana law but also Lesbians, Bisexuals, and transgender people.

      What does “had it coming to them” mean? Why does any group have it coming to them for defending their right to exist and be equal?Report

  12. Avatar CK MacLeod
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    says:

    The “moment” described when Republicans or conservatives supposedly flipped on religious freedom turns on a false equivalence. The “freedom” to have views on marriage recognized within the law is not the same as the freedom to resist alteration in conduct backed by the force of law. If I believed that the universe was hatched by a turtle, and that everyone else should believe it, it would not generally be taken as a gross infringement on my religious liberty if turtle-universe theory was not taught in schools simply on my demand. If in some abstract sense it would be a limitation on my freedom, it would be similar to the limitations imposed by the force of gravity on my freedom to fly to the Moon. It might, however, be rightly taken as an infringement on my liberty at all, religious or otherwise, to compel me to participate in celebrations of the birth of the universe from a sparrow’s egg.

    If there had been an effort to force the Episcopal Church, for instance on penalty of losing its tax-exempt status, to cease supporting gay rights, then the implicit charge of hypocrisy would have more merit. Instead we have an additional false equivalence or one parallel to the first one: That Indiana’s bans on recognition of same sex marriage “quashed [Episcopalians’] ability to worship as they chose.” So, Tod equates Indiana’s failure to accede to an Episcopal will to power with infringement on worship – as though an Episcopalian concept of worship extends to the ability to see Episcopalian ideas exclusively represented in institutions of the state. I think Tod may be intending to adopt a false definition of “worship” or “freedom of worship” from the other side, for illustrative purposes, but the assumption that this is a fair demonstration relies on ignoring the turtle-theory-propagation vs forced-sparrow-celebration distinction.

    Otherwise, what we get in the way of evidence of counter-majoritarian hypocrisy is a passage by Rod Dreher dealing with the nihllistic endpoint of the sexual revolution that does not appear to be well-understood either by Tod or by the Washington Monthly author who attempted to analyze it in detail in the linked piece. (Apparently, the link to Dreher’s original piece in its entirety is dead.) Rather than rest on a majority view of any type, in that passage Dreher seems, accurately, to predict that his argument is destined to to fail “because even conservatives today don’t fully grasp how the logic of what we’ve already conceded as a result of being modern leads to this end.”

    Admitting defeat and seeking to negotiate the terms of surrender, as Ross Douthat has put it, conservative intellectuals believe that they may have lost the argument politically, but not on its true merits. As they seek to construct refuges for dissent with the widest possible borders, and so on, it may seem unfortunate that this issue is being framed as a question of “religious freedom,” though it is perhaps unavoidable, and anyway is understandable as a desperate measure.The stronger conservative case against marriage equality would support the views typically associated with “traditional” or “conservative” religion, but not depend on them. The rarely heard alternative conservative argument is that religious practice here as often codifies as moral law a serious and reasonable practical judgment on the formation and perpetuation of a better society or way of life. Since, however, the majority cannot be thought to have arrived at its “core beliefs” strictly (or often, if ever) through moral reasoning, the politically expedient thing to do is instead to appeal to beliefs, including in America the civic-religious doctrine that belief itself is sacred or the equivalent of sacred (constitutionally protected) under the secular order.

    The last observation points indirectly to the deeper problem for political conservatives: that in modern Christianate (or, as some say, post-Christian) mass societies, a set of liberal premises, some of the same ones that Dreher believes lead to nihilism, are also inculcated on the level of unquestionable belief.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod
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      says:

      So, Tod equates Indiana’s failure to accede to an Episcopal will to power with infringement on worship – as though an Episcopalian concept of worship extends to the ability to see Episcopalian ideas exclusively represented in institutions of the state.

      The opposite, no? Episcopalians “will to power” was simply to be allowed to worship as they so chose and state law was intended to prevent them from so doing? Or am I confused about this…Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        The question here seems to be definition of “worship.” Tod seems to me to be defining the term as including the ability to impose terms of belief on others, under a presumption that conservatives are defining it in this way for purposes of this argument. So, the EC believed that it was “really” marrying same sex couples, and Tod seems to be saying that Indiana’s refusal to recognize those marriages as real marriages, extending possibly to strict limitations on the rights of Es to refer to the ceremonies as “weddings” and the resultant unions as “marriages” (the precise limitations are unclear from the TPM article linked), infringes on that form of worship. To me, however, that goes back to the right to have everyone believe in the Great Motherfather Turtle. I believe I am free to believe that 2 + 2 = 5, regardless of whether I believe that the numeral “5” signifies four of something, or that a second numeral “2” should be read as “3,” or that adding two things to another two things results in five things. I can worship that equation, on whatever basis – passively – but I cannot expect or compel others to adopt it, or treat their refusal to adopt it as an infringement on my worship, even if I also worship the idea of others adopting it, and so on.

        But perhaps Tod can enlighten us as to what he really meant.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @ck-macleod

        can worship that equation, on whatever basis – passively – but I cannot expect or compel others to adopt it, or treat their refusal to adopt it as an infringement on my worship, even if I also worship the idea of others adopting it, and so on.

        The problem seems to be with the notion of others adopting the idea; wether you call it the mission; the ministry or some other fancy name for proselytizing.

        Such laws were/are quite common, including blue laws about being open for business on Sunday, selling alcohol on Sunday, dancing, etc. Bans on SSM, abortion, contraception are certainly the hot-button issues, but the idea that others are supposed to worship as you do, and if the don’t, still follow the rules of morality laid out by your form of worship is often seen as normal.

        It seems to me that this is the thing perceived as a violation of religious freedoms; not actual ability to worship and express one’s faith through one’s actions, but pushback on spreading that faith to others who don’t hold similar beliefs.

        I view this as another way of violating people’s religious freedoms, truthfully. I am repeatedly told this is not the case; so I guess we’re free to abridge and limit each others freedom, so long as it’s not government doing it. But I think a lot of others feel as I do; that there are large numbers of people who think this is what the 1st does for them.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @zic turtles all the way down. The more gentlepersonly conservative, or temperamental rather than radical or demagogical conservative loved by FNC, may believe that all of the idols, even the idol-smashing idols, have feet of clay, and that, if you wish to have a liveable society, you will cultivate an allergy to taking political things all the logical consequences. The examples you give are just a few of the situations that absolute consistency would make untenable, or that could be finally sorted only over a mountain of corpses, but that don’t much perturb a neighborly acceptance of differences. It seems that on one level we’re arguing about whether it’s OK for a baker to say, “Nyah, not really my thing.” The temperamental cons are saying that’s better than “making a federal case out of it.” Apparently, both reasonable and unreasonable minds still disagree.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        a few of the situations that absolute consistency would make untenable

        This reminds me of something I’ve been puzzling about for a while: the predisposition of intellectuals to think that a moral scheme has to be internally consistent to be rationally justified. Seems to me that common-sense morality is inconsistent, and the human condition is a freakin mess. So why does consistency (I mean, here, internal logical consistency) play such a Big role in Big thinkers views on this?

        Seems to me the idea derives from a sorta a priori conception that rational human action should conform to the same logical analysis that mathematics does. But why the hell would anyone think that?

        Which in turn reminds me of a categorical refutation of the categorical imperative: “I choose not to act that way.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        predisposition of intellectuals to think that a moral scheme has to be internally consistent to be rationally justified.

        In fact, the closer a moral system comes to “All derived logically from these few, simple axioms”, the less able it is to deal with the real world. As a wise man once said

        This here game is more than the rep you carry, the corner you hold. You gotta be fierce, I know that, but more than that, you gotta show some flex, give and take on both sides.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @stillwater the scheme you present, a reasonable acceptance of the unreasonable, is quite consistent with itself, including with its own irrationality, and the rationality of that, and irrationality of that. So, it’s natural to see how much further we can take it. Some have managed to go very far, piecing together the rationality of the apparently irrational. Meanwhile, human being(s) is(are) part of the universe, which much must be presumed consistent for the sake of any inquiry at all.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Meanwhile, human being(s) is(are) part of the universe, which much must be presumed consistent for the sake of any inquiry at all.

        Quantum entangled-turtles all the way down. No physical theory of local hidden variables can ever reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        @ck-macleod – So what you are saying is, it’s rational turtles, alternating with irrational turtles, all the way down?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        ah, @zic beat me to it.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @stillwater

        My guess is that many people, possibly even most people don’t spend too much time thinking about politics or their beliefs. Fox News might crush the competition but it still only attracts 2-3 million viewers on a regular basis and this is just a tiny number in a country the size of the U.S. The blogger/columnist/political scientist Johnathan Bernstein used to tell his readers that they were freaks and exceptions rather than the rules. Most people are not political junkies even if they are hardened partisans or regular voters.

        I also don’t think that most people care about whether beliefs A or B are inconsistent. Intellectuals (including myself) are the ones that try and maintain some balance of consistency for politics. The reality though is that we probably just come up with more elaborate justifications and cognitive dissonance tricks when we hold inconsistent beliefs or potentially inconsistent beliefs. Erik Loomis provided a good example of this a few months back when he got angry at LGM readers for going against police unions even though he is against police brutality. He couldn’t find a way to match his pro-unionism with the idea that a police union might work to protect cops from accusations of excessive and unconstitutional force.

        http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/12/police-unions

        There are plenty of examples where people of all political stripes and intensities cannot “square the circle” for their beliefs.

        I suppose the benefit of squaring the circle for beliefs is that it makes one more likely to advocate for consistent policy proposals instead of inconsistent ones. Can someone support strong police unions and also be opposed to police brutality? In theory yes but in practice it might be very difficult.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Stringer Bell! That actor’s not English enough to play James Bond but he’s American enough to play a Baltimore “businessman”.

        CK, I’m not sure what you’re getting at there. My argument is sorta against the intellectualize of morality (I know, I know … dumb folk just shouldn’t have a say in how this shit goes…). At least it’s against the apriorization of morality. Consistency is easy: whatever promotes the good! I just think that pragmatics has a much larger role to play in it all than intellectuals like to admit. For obvious reasons: if it’s just pragmatics then any ole fool who can read the writing on the wall is a moralist!

        And of course that’s messy.

        But why did anyone believe that morality could ever be CLEAN?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Saul,

        I’m throwing this out there as a wild hypothesis which I strenuously reject (since I, like you, look at myself as an intellectual): could it be that consistency (internal, logical) is just a dart to throw at other folks to affirm that what we’re doing is not only a worthwhile exercise (we’re smart and we think = value!) but also to exclude a bunch of otherwise equally valid views from gaining traction?

        I’ll admit, I don’t know. I’m not cynical enough to agree that the whole enterprise is self-serving, but I’m also mystified by the emphasis on a priori logical rigor as an indicator of a moral theory’s inherent value.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        @glyph

        It’s all in the rainbow connection.

        (Seriously awesome linkage there, do follow it down the rabbit hole.)Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        @zic – so, the gaygenda goes back much farther than anyone suspected…Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        Big Gay goes all the way to the beginning of our social structures, Glyph.

        Ice cream.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        “This reminds me of something I’ve been puzzling about for a while: the predisposition of intellectuals to think that a moral scheme has to be internally consistent to be rationally justified.”

        Because a non-consistent scheme looks like little more than “making it up as we go along, according to momentary whims and prejudices”, and it’s hard to convince someone that’s any more justifiable than “God(s) said so”.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        I think I agree with @densityduck here (by the way, hi DensityDuck!), although I’m no philosopher and am not sure I qualify as an intellectual. If one’s moral/ethical scheme is followed only when it’s convenient and then disregarded when it’s inconvenient, it’s questionable.

        By “questionable,” I don’t mean I’m ready to say it’s necessarily wrong. I do have sympathy for @stillwater ‘s point “that common-sense morality is inconsistent, and the human condition is a freakin mess,” which seems a modern-day rephrasing of @RWEmerson’s point that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little bloggers.” The times in my life when I was most morally sure of myself–when I was an evangelical and later when I was a marxist-leaning leftist–were the times that I later looked back on and saw the many ways in which I gainsaid very legitimate concerns or suffering or in which I endorsed or participated in ways of dealing with people that were hurtful.

        For all I know, my current libertarian-leaning liberalism is also of that stripe, although I do hope I temper it with a dose of the uncertainty of things. Maybe that hope, however, is just a fanciful conceit.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        When I used to play poker regularly, there was an old man in the group who would always make the same joke whenever he got the deal:

        “Now we’re going to play a little game called ‘Me Win’.”

        Without a vigorous attempt to be consistent, moral schemes look a lot like the dealer is trying to play a little game called “Me Win”.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @stillwater You seem to be making a leap from the observation of apparent irrationality – or apparent non-rationality (not the same thing) – in human affairs to total skepticism or nihilism. That decisions or priorities are not always explicitly thought through, or that human beings seem to embrace logical contraries, or that human beings appear to act against their own interests (as we judge them) does not make any of those particular decisions, priorities, embraces, or actions absolutely irrational. All we can say is that they appear irrational from a certain point of view. Every “rationality” or “irrationality” presumes a position of abstraction, or context defined by presumptions, from which the assessment can be made. In other words, there is no such thing as “irrationality” without the presumption of “ratio,” and I was speaking loosely and prejudicially, as we all do, when I referred to the reasonable acceptance of the unreasonable. We mean the reasonable acceptance of the apparently – of the as-far-as-we-can-tell – unreasonable.

        That on the most fundamental level we simply must presume to be true things that are insusceptible to proof or that are circular – that a world exists outside our minds, that it is better to choose life than to choose death, that the universe operates predictably according to natural laws, that there are statements that more closely approximate truth than other statements and that it is preferable to operate in accordance with the former, that comment threads need to be as soon as practicable moved to greater depth and more convenient repliability at maximum depth – doesn’t justify a charge of total irrationality. Even less can it give justification for assuming the opposites (for taking the positions that everyone speculates about but no one holds). It would leave us outside of the rational. There would be no “otherwise equally valid views” because there would be no “validity” whatsoever, no “equality” knowable as such, no “views” comprehensible as views, etc. It is not the possibility of alternative justifications, but the end of justifications, which are thoroughly rational operations or not justifications at all…but I’ll stop here rather than try to re-found the virtuous community in a comment thread.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        I don’t have time to get into this with ore depth than a brief comment (Easter Breakfast calls!) but I’ll come back in a bit and try to flesh the following idea out a bit more:

        One of the lessons Wittgenst ein taught us is that the practice of mathematics (say, adding correctly) isn’t the result of internalizing a rule and then following it. THe argument is a bit complex, but in a nutshell, it’s that determining what constitutes the right answer in the application of a function (the addition function taking its arguments to a conclusion, say) doesn’t depend on the truth conditions of the application of the function, but rather the justification conditions under which an answer is determined to be correct. So even tho there is an a priori knowable correct answer to 2+2, the justification of having determined the right answer – in practice! – doesn’t depend on knowing the rule which governs + function. (In effect, it’s because there is no unique rule which could be known, but I’ll leave that aside for now.)

        If that’s right, then it seems to me morality ought to be evaluated against justification conditions rather than truth conditions in exactly the same way. More specifically, tho, is my reluctance to concede that moral truth can be determined a priori along the lines of mathematical truths (that is, that a moral system needs to be consistent and complete and a priori knowable to be justified) since it seems to me that the presumption that morality can, or even should, conform to that model is a mistake. I’m not going to say that an a priori knowable morality is impossible (that’s a strong philosophical thesis which I haven’t thought enough about to commit to), I just think believing that we must have one is a mistake.

        Consistency is surely important in a functioning moral theory (none of us want them to be random, haphazard or completely ad hoc) but that’s because we – all of us on this site, for example – are predisposed to think that a moral theory which closer approximates mathematics in terms of consistency and axiomaticity (and etc) is by definition a better theory. But moral truths, to me, are for the most part (maybe entirely) determined by outcomes. That is, we derive our moral truths based on the consequences of acting in certain ways then work backwards from those outcomes to derive (is that the right word?) the various axioms from which those outcomes can be a priori determined as morally logically justified in terms of the truth conditions of the premises.

        Now, I get that a materialistically naturalist will hold that morality is no different than, say, physics or biology, in that it ought to conform to and be explained by law like natural properties of the world (or natural laws themselves!). But to me the evidence suggests otherwise. As I said up there, moral theories all break down because common-sense morality is messy and the human condition is even messier yet.

        All of which isn’t to say that consistency in application of the various moral principles we each individually hold isn’t a virtue. It’s just that such consistency is virtuous not in and of itself (as a necessary condition for an a priori axiomatic scheme) but because it leads to good results (or not!) in practice.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @stillwater: “It’s just that such consistency is virtuous not in and of itself (as a necessary condition for an a priori axiomatic scheme) but because it leads to good results (or not!) in practice.”

        Still stuck in a circle: “good results” is the product of a moral scheme that tells us how to define what “good” is and also of a likely related ontological scheme probably of efficient and final causes and effects. A “good result” for me is that I live long and prosper, except when a “good result” for me is that my offer of sacrifice of my life, fulfilling the meaning of my life in my view, is accepted – unless the true “good result” is the one viewed externally, by my enemies, gratified both by the exposure of my evil and cowardice and by the horrible suffering I experience at their hands, which result also will also serve as a warning to all not to follow my path and not to emulate my loathsome self – indeed, not just a good result, but a great result!

        Now, some have held, among philosophers as well as among theologians, and perhaps more clearly among saints and prophets, that we not only “must” have an “a priori knowable morality,” but that we all do, that “we” are inconceivable except in relation to it, that conceptualization itself is impossible except in relation to it or that thinking together presumes it, that it precedes any “prior” or is the true and common “prior,” and that we demonstrate as much and commit to it from the moment we open our virtual mouths to speak for or against it or any of its theoretical or practical implications. It is a most venerable and ancient tradition, whose existence the theory would predict, but does not have to, since the tradition already predicts the theory.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @ck-macleod,

        Still stuck in a circle: “good results” is the product of a moral scheme that tells us how to define what “good” is and also of a likely related ontological scheme probably of efficient and final causes and effects.

        Maybe, but not a vicious one! It’s not worse a circle than every single one of us is in when we justify our moral actions and beliefs purely subjectively. In every case, the logical conclusion of enough why’s is “because I choose to based on my conception of the good” or something equivalent. More importantly, the reason it’s not circular is because on this view evidence drives moral principles rather than a priori reasoning. It seems to me that an a priori scheme needs to beg the exact same question (where do these moral truth/sentiments come from? what is there ontological status?) but rather than identify what they are (via a priori ratiocination, like self-evidentness (??) ) and then tease out logical entailments which necessarily ought to govern our behavior, the view I’m suggesting takes moral impulses (defined however anyone wants to define them) as a given and separates the good ones from the bad by looking at how they actually work in practice. And *that* seems like a much more accurate description of how this stuff actually plays out in practice than the alternative. Nothing mystical, a priori-determined, logically entailed by self-evident truths, consistent and complete, etc about it. Just a couple handfuls of guiding principles that work in most (but not all!) applications which are ever changing because a) they’re contingent and b) the world we live in is ever changing.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @stillwater

        Sorry, still a circle:

        What’s good?
        What works.
        What works?
        What’s good.

        Still, what you say – that’s how things play out – may be true, although I suspect your imagination is working selectively here. We have to go back to the question of vantage point in relation to any lessons of “practice,” and also question the origins of impulses and sentiments. If we follow Hume’s method, much of what we treat as “mystical” or “revealed” or “natural reflex” will on close analysis turn out to be the residue of a ruthless, effectively material or practical judgment achieved and reinforced over very long time spans, and reinforced further in our daily lives in countless ways, as by force of social gravity.

        So, we (mostly) stick to promises we’ve made or sense an impulse to do so, or revere our parents, or pledge allegiance to the state or God or both, or admire a well-proportioned face or figure reflexively, or think marriage is between one man and one woman and for the purposes of child-making and -rearing, and so on, because in the general, extensively repeated experience of our foreparents, it was discovered and confirmed that things “worked” better that way, producing countless habits of action, expression, and thought that make it possible for us to negotiate our ways out of bed and into a social world without being forced to re-think and re-assess every step we take and every move we make.

        In our era, with so many variously divergent systems of educated reflexive impulses, or useful habits, coming into contact with each other, as well as concretely changing material conditions and possibilities, we naturally experience frictions and confusions – or what sometimes appears to be a hopeless mess. One mistake would be to assume things could possibly go any other way.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @ck-macleod,

        When I make a determination to act according to moral principle P rather than self-interested action S, I do so because I’ve chosen to so act. And the reasons I so choose is because doing so promotes my conception of the good (personally, collectively, divinely, whatever). But that action leads to effects in the real world, ones which I can evaluate relative to other principles I hold, and other outcomes I value, which are also based on my conception of the good. And my conception of the good is determined by me (insofar as it is determined by me!) considering my wants and desires in relation to outcomes I value. That’s just descriptive stuff it seems to me, and is true irrespective of any particular philosophical or naturalistic account of where my moral impulses (ie., the normative impulses I hold and act an) or the justification of those principles.

        So, is the above description of morality circular? Not as far as I can see. I hold certain moral principles because they promote my interests; I act on those principles outa a conception of the good; and I re-evaluate those principles based on the outcomes resulting from so acting in terms of other principles I hold.

        Now, the problem you’re worried about seems to only arise when we get to the justification side of all this. Specifically, you seem to be saying that if I evaluate a certain moral principle in terms of what works for me (yeah, moral principle!) I can only do so by justifying that judgment in terms of “the good”, and further – I guess, I’m not crystal clear about what you were writing up there – that “the good” must be defined and justified in terms independent from what works for me. And presumably, the only way to achieve this is to justify “the good” (however it’s defined) a priori. Otherwise we get a vicious, VICIOUS circularity.

        Well, that’s the view I’m rejecting, so I better be able to answer that challenge, yes?

        One way is to deny that there is such a thing as an a priori knowable morality in the philosophical sense of that term. Pure reason cannot (it seems to me) determine a moral code. How could it? Self-evidentness? (No.) That (true) moral principles hold necessarily and only the a priori is necessary? (No.) That moral principles are divinely inspired and revealed to us humans by deep reflection? (NO!) Universalizable kingdom-of-the-ends categorality? (No.)

        No, our moral norms, the ones we accept, are determined empirically, by their efficacy in practice in promoting certain outcomes widely shared by enough people that *those practices* have become norms. And there are plenty of norms yet to be discovered. (Eg, Brandon Berg wrote on another thread that he’s conflicted about the morality of altruistic charitable donations in relation to straight ahead self-interested investment since in the long run, investing may help more people than a charitable donation. Norms evolve as our society becomes more complex and as our understanding of that complexity increases.)

        So, back to the topic. Am I caught in a vicious circularity? I don’t think so. For me (individually) efficacy is defined by how well that practice achieves my moral aims – to help others, to promote the peace, to promote my unharmful self-interest, etc. And each of those in turn are just impulses I feel (for whatever reasons!) and act on based on a specific moral principle I’ve accepted. Or not, as the case may be.

        Of course, a further question – and the important one for this discussion – is this: where do the specific principles I act on come from? Well, they often come from my community. Sometimes they come from considered reflection the efficacy of achieving a desired moral goal given two choices of action. Sometimes they just come from sympathy or empathy or naked self-interest. Whatever. Some of these principles lead to good outcomes, some lead to bad outcomes for the actor, some lead to good outcomes for the actor but bad outcomes for others, etc and so on thru the myriad permutations.

        Second important question: how are these various principles (good, bad, whatever) justified? Well, in my view, they are not justified a priori, and they do not comprise an axiomatic scheme of a priori moral entailments. Instead, they are justified by practice. Eg, my nakedly self-interested moral scheme is accepted by me insofar as the results of so acting further my interests (promote my conception of the good), but if my actions and the principles I’m acting hinder other folks promotion of their conception of the good, my actions are (in fact!) bad for them in practice. So they adopt a different moral scheme, with different principles, than I do.

        Taking this all the way around Ludwig’s barn, the individual justification for acting in accordance with a moral principle like “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” is that, in practice, that principle has been shown to be one of the right answers. But there are a lot of em. And they continue to evolve.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to CK MacLeod
      Ignored
      says:

      Personally, I prefer the pro-peyote in place of pro-SSM in examination of the analogy.
      Better visuals.Report

  13. Avatar DRS
    Ignored
    says:

    You know I love you, don’t you, Tod? That I think you’re the bestest and the greatestest of all time? Right. Good. So I know you’ll take this in the proper spirit.

    Rod Dreher’s concept of religious liberty is, at its core, nothing more than a determination to use every legal and government method to make sure that he doesn’t have to acknowledge any change to the culture that he’s not comfortable with. It’s got dip-all to do with religion. Don’t be fooled by all of his Dante or “Orthodoxy is the tops!” posts, or his apparently never-ending obsession with Catholicism even though he jumped the pew years ago. Gays are getting too ubiquitous out there, and too many business and cultural institutions are making outreach marketing efforts to them, and that just has to stop because….because….it’s just got to, that’s all.

    And in the name of dragging the horse back to the barn and making sure it doesn’t get out again, Rod’s going to make any argument that he thinks will work. Most are inconsistent, and most of Rod’s allies don’t share Rod’s unwillingness to be a total thug (something some of his commenters manage to overcome) but at the end of the day, Rod is just trying to salvage a culture that he’s comfortable with.

    Also: I think you use way too many analogies in this post. It would have been tighter if you’d just concentrated on the main point.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      @drs

      Right. This is the sort of thing that makes me think Corey Robin is unto something in the Reactionary Mind. I am not sure he is totally right but it often seems to me that talk about individual liberal, states’ rights, and the virtues of small government/small towns are ways of entrenching privilege. Now there might be many on the right who sincerely believe that limited government is the only way to preserve liberty and to a certain extent, they might be right (NSA, War on Drugs).

      On the other hand, it is really on the Federal Government that is able to ensure increased civil rights and provide appropriate forums to redress civil rights and discrimination violations (Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Lawrence/Windsor) and also provide a safety net (Social Security, Medicare, the ACA).Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        Haven’t read it but I think he’s overthinking things. There are certain people – even most people at some level, I suppose – who dread change, for whom change is not automatically a good thing, that there will be adjustments made and losers and winners resulting. They’re sure they’re going to end up losers from this and since they don’t really feel anyone has their collective back anymore, there’s no one to help them. This is what Obama was groping for with his clinging to guns and religion comment way back when, and I always thought it surprising that something so obvious was seen as controversial.

        After all, if you’re lower middle class, high-school-diploma only, just a step above real working class or just off the farm – name one piece of economic change since the OPEC crisis in the 70’s that hasn’t been harmful to you. Is it really surprising that you’re going to hang on to the culture for as long as you can?Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      In the American Right, I still see a desire to have Jefferson’s dream of a nation of self-sufficient yeoman farmers which might have been a nice dream in the late 18th century but has stopped being applicable sometime around the Jackson administration.

      You don’t get Carnegie Steel or Google in a nation of yeoman farmers.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        @saul-degraw

        I think sometimes that people forget that Jefferson was writing pre-Industrial Revolution. In an agrarian economy yeoman farmer may be a way better idea than Feudalism, but that decision was part of an entirely different epoch of human development.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      @drs Pretty spot on I think. Especially with that last point — WAY too many analogies.

      I reread it this morning and thought, “Man I really regurgitated that out.”Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        Just too many posts in one.

        1. Why do Americans need to have public figures (not just politicians) conform to pre-ordained story lines that are historically familiar?

        2. Why can’t Rod Dreher and company see that claiming their concept of religious freedom as a First Amendment issue is going to bite them in the ass really hard once it’s expanded to include other religions?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        @drs

        1. This could be a human trait that we notice more in our own country.

        2. Very few people are that far-sightedReport

  14. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    We ought not be surprised to find that partisans will deploy whatever rhetorical weapon is convenient to win. BSDI. Nor ought we be surprised to find that specimens such as Dreher turn out not to be principled advocates for a particular vision of The Good but rather, when put to the test, are revealed to be mere partisans. BSDI, again.

    In @tod-kelly ‘s frustration evidenced in the original post, I see the triumph of James Madison in Federalist No. 10.

    Is a candidate’s business acumen relevant to his ability to serve as governor of a state? The faction with the successful businessman as its candidate will argue yes, the faction without such a candidate will argue no. And when it is relevaled that the successful businessman’s success is illusory, the factions will effortlessly switch sides and argue the converse positions to that which they argued in the past.

    Ought the desires of the majority become social policy, or ought the rights of a minority triumph over the majority’s efforts to impose its will? The answer obviously varies from case to case, but in each instance, the appeal to democracy on the one hand and inviolable individual rights on the other hand are argumentative weapons used by factions to resolve the particular case in the political arena. The truth, or at least the proper policy to adopt, is revealed to the observer who pays attention to the content of the exchanges in each case.

    The system breaks down, however, when there are too many members of the factions and not enough unresolved, convincable actors on the political scene to cast decisive votes one way or the other in the particular cases. So in the case of electing a candidate, many voters will not decide or have a strong preference, and decide. The system works reasonably well (Kitzhaber’s subsequent disgrace notwithstanding). In the case of asking public officials to decide a policy, when they are all partisans and partisan controls over their behaviors are strong, it is only rarely the case that resolution on the merits of the policy proposal is realized.

    Division into factions is inevitable, Madison understood. Alas that he failed to appreciate the insidious permeability of factional loyalty over pursuit of the public good in the minds of the typical citizen and thus the facility with which factions could assemble and become permanent fixtures upon the political scene.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      This is an excellent comment.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      Burt has conservatism and libertarianism down but he doesn’t seem to get liberalism.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        What have I missed, @mike-schilling ?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        You’re trying to apply the same analysis to groups in entirely different circumstances: those that are right and those that are wrong.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        If being right changed anything, they’d make it illegal.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        And thinking about it some more, I can’t help but wonder what being “right” or “wrong” has to do with much of anything. (Assuming, of course, that it wasn’t a joke being made in which case: it was a good joke. I liked it.)

        Let’s use homosexuality as an example here:

        For thousands of years, we knew that homosexuality was a sin. (Hey, it was written.)

        Eventually, we figured out that it wasn’t a sin at all and shouldn’t be punished as such. Homosexuality was, instead, a mental illness and needed to be treated as such.

        Eventually we figured out that we were wrong about that too. Homosexuality was just another way to be and there wasn’t a right or a wrong about it.

        If anything, the only things to care about were the things that we had to care about with sex in general. Watch out for diseases. Don’t force sex on someone else. There are some weird emotional things that happen after sex so you should be careful with yourself and be careful with others. And something about reproduction.

        These viewpoints that we look at and we know are wrong might be little more than merely another way to be.

        What we need to care about are diseases, people forcing things on others, weird emotional things, and something about reproduction.

        But I’m a libertarian so I *WOULD* think that.Report

  15. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto
    Ignored
    says:

    Didn’t Rod Dreher convert from Catholicism to Orthodox Christianity because he felt the former was being too squishy on the subject of LGBT people?Report

  16. Avatar DRS
    Ignored
    says:

    Let me toss out a comment: the views of Rod Dreher and company (hereinafter RD&C) make a lot more sense if you consider that much of what they believe has been so compromised by political needs of particular politicians that they don’t even realize it has little to do with religion anymore. You show respect for religious beliefs by going to services every Sunday, wearing your best clothes for God, seeing the crèche in the mall in early December when you go Christmas shopping, and having major family events take place in church (weddings, funerals, christenings). When you see gay people adopting your cultural rituals for their purposes (gay marriage) it’s not a slam on the Bible but on your cultural identification with those particular rituals.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      @drs

      This brings up an interesting thought I never had before.

      Christianity has a strong history of proselytizing. This makes sense, given that most Christian dogmas teach that the unconverted cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So the faith often demands that its followers reach out to non-Christians in an attempt to spread the faith. With this in mind, it would seem that the truly Christian thing to do would be to embrace the faith being adopted by more and more people, even if they are icky gays.

      This is where someone like Kyle Cupp or Elizabeth Whatwasherlastname would be SUPER helpful to shed light on whether this is a reasonable position to take and/or why it doesn’t seem to feature more prominently in contemporary American Christianity. I’m sure others here can similarly weigh in though. Please do!

      Disclaimer: I was raised Catholic and generally identify as such for cultural identification purposes but do not consider myself to be a believer nor an expert on the faith (Catholicism in particular or Christianity in general) and, as such, consider my perspective largely ‘outsider’ despite having most of the cultural markings of an ‘insider’.Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        There’s also that pesky “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” A direct quote, too. Somehow RD&C manage to ignore that one on a regular basis.

        Again: Kazzy, you’re looking at this from a religious POV. This is a cultural issue. Culturally, the imperative is to keep the unfamiliar away. Dreher has many commenters who discuss what they call “tribalism” in a favourable manner, and get really upset when others call it prejudice or racism.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Oh, agreed, @drs . And I’m not generally inclined to think of things from a religious perspective. You simply got me thinking about something I hadn’t thought about before and I wanted to explore it a bit.

        And I absolutely see what you are talking about. I work in independent schools. When looking at potential employees, there is often talk of “fit” or “culture”. When talked about ‘seriously’, people talk about things like consistency with the school’s mission and philosophy. But, really, that isn’t culture as much as it is meeting professional expectations. If you teach in a manner that deviates from the school’s prescribed approach (regardless of the efficacy of this approach), you aren’t a bad “cultural” “fit”; you are simply failing to meet expectations.

        No, what “culture” and “fit” are about are all the other things. Does this person seem like us? Do they look the right way, talk the right way, act the right way, dress the right way, think the right way? And all of this begs the question that a good institution is one with a rather monolithic “culture”… something we’ve somehow convinced ourselves is a good thing when closer examination actually reveals it to be a rather ugly thing. It is elitism/otherism/exclusivity masking as institutional culture with a BS facade of professionalism. And because we value that third one, we accept the second one and allow the first one. What we need to do is value the third one and seriously question the second one and eliminate the first one.Report

      • Avatar A Compromised Immune System in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Christianity also reveres “martyrdom.” In fact I’d venture they have a martyrdom complex.

        But they’re in the majority. Which means it’s hard to get “martyred” for anything. When you’re 85% of the population, how do you go around finding someone to “martyr” you?

        So what the ones who’ve gotten a little too hard into the Cult Of Martyrdom do is they run around finding any minority they can to pick on, hoping to start a fight, so they can claim “religious freedom, yay I’m being martyred I’m such a good holy christian” without realizing that they’re really just Assholes For Jesus who disgrace the latter by behaving as the former.Report

    • Avatar Richards in reply to DRS
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      says:

      The more this story unravels, the more I think that part of what the “religious freedom” law is trying to do is allow those of faith to distance themselves from those they consider unclean. I also think that in no small part there is a lot of mirroring where those who persecute come to believe they are the persecuted. I suspect in large part that the pious who are claiming persecution are actually worried that they will be treated as badly as those they have treated….Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Richards
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        says:

        “The more this story unravels, the more I think that part of what the “religious freedom” law is trying to do is allow those of faith to distance themselves from those they consider unclean.”

        Not just that… but they want to achieve the distancing not by moving further way themselves, but by giving the stiff-arm to others and forcing them from society.

        If fundamentalist Christians want to move to communes in the hills, I’m more inclined to say, ‘Well, good on you. We’ll leave well enough alone.” But they want to lay claim to Main Street and then deny others — folks who’ve lived in town for years — the opportunity to walk the sidewalks there.

        I work with four-year-olds. I teach them some of the most basic in’s and out’s of social interactions. Conflict often arises when one child is doing something another child doesn’t like but that doesn’t actually violate a rule of any kind. Jimmy is playing with his trucks next to Johnny and Jimmy likes to make a loud beeping sound and Johnny is bothered by the noise. When Johnny complains, I offer him two paths: talk with Jimmy to see if a solution agreeable to all parties can be achieved -OR- move away from Jimmy. Some Johnnies insist that they do not want to move but they do want to work in quiet regardless of Jimmy’s feelings. This isn’t an unreasonable response… for a four-year-old. We shouldn’t accept it from adults.

        You don’t want to sell cakes to gays? Fine. Don’t sell cakes. Or move somewhere with no gays and cross your fingers it stays that way. Or ask the gays to stay away pretty pretty please.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Richards
        Ignored
        says:

        “You don’t want to sell cakes to gays? Fine. Don’t sell cakes.”

        You don’t want to be subject to government review and approval of your articles in case they contain information that’s damaging to national security? Fine. Don’t sell newspapers.

        You don’t want to be stopped and searched without warrant or notice? Fine. Don’t drive a car.

        You don’t want to be required to answer a law-enforcement official’s questions without counsel present? Fine. Don’t get involved in shady activities.Report

      • Avatar Lenoxus in reply to Richards
        Ignored
        says:

        “You don’t want Uncle Sam to read your email, do you? Then who is he to tell you what is and isn’t flammable?”Report

  17. Avatar Dennis Sanders
    Ignored
    says:

    I want to agree with this, but I feel the argument here is weak. I don’t think the Episcopal church is being denied the right to perform marriages as much as its clergy are not allowed to be representatives of the State during the ceremony. A same sex couple could still get married, but without the imprimatur of the State.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think you and Dreher have a faulty reasoning on this issue. The point of the matter should be that religious liberty applies when you are adversely affected by some action. In this case liberal Episcopalians marrying same sex couples and the baker asked to bake a cake for a same sex wedding are not burdensome. If, however, someone loses their job because of an action they did (give money to a pro or anti-same sex marriage campaign), well then you have case.Report

  18. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    Connor Friedersdorf wrote an insightful post, Gays, Religious Traditionalists, and the Feeling of Being Under Siege.

    If you’re a religious believer surrounded by coreligionists and exposed to their Facebook feeds, your notion of America’s cultural landscape is shaped by stories of traditionalists being denounced as bigots, compared to segregationists, and having their ability to provide for their families threatened for publicly opposing gay marriage. Many sitcoms, dramas, and newscasts you watch on national television portray social liberals as enlightened and relatable, and religious people as hateful yokels. Hollywood movies are very unlikely to reflect your world view. The substance of your positions is mischaracterized so often you think it must be deliberate. The culture tells you, “you’re on the wrong side of history.” And you wonder if, say, your ability to home school your children or your church’s ability to qualify as a nonprofit organization will be threatened or taken away.

    What you’re unlikely to see is America as it looks from the perspective of many gays and lesbians. You’re unlikely to see inside homes where parents react to kids coming out of the closet by emotionally abusing them. You’re unlikely to see what it’s like for a gay kid to walk the halls of the local high school. You’re unlikely to know anyone who committed suicide due partly to hate to which they were subjected. And you’re even unlikely to know about aspects of gay life that are public facts.

    For example, here’s a fact that may surprise religious traditionalists who feel under siege. Take all the hate crimes perpetrated against Jews. Add all the hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims. Add all the hate crimes perpetrated against Christians. Add all the hate crimes perpetrated against all other religious groups too.

    Combine all those hate crimes in 2013, the most recent year data is available.

    The number of hate crimes perpetrated against gays that year is still higher, despite the fact that religious people far outnumber gays. So if you’re gay and looking at your Facebook feed, it will likely include controversies about whether Christians should be punished for not selling stuff to same-sex weddings. But instead of seeing such controversies as would a traditionalist who, rationally or not, earnestly fears for his job or the future of his family business, you’re more likely to see them through the lens of prejudices and risks that you face. If you pay attention to the fact that gays like you are victimized, your Facebook feed might include these stories:

    “Victim beaten over sexual orientation, Orlando police say”
    “Gay Dad Confronts Sons’ Bullies In Heartfelt Video”
    “Gay Kentucky basketball player comes out during game, gets chased out of school by homophobic opponents”
    “Gay honor student told she can’t wear tux to prom”
    “Florida Bakers Threatened After Refusing to Decorate Cake With Antigay Message”

    All those articles are from the first few days of this month.

    But what bothers me about the Indiana RFRA is that, while it was pointed at SSM, the impetus was HL, and the rights of the religious to impose their view of individual women’s right to control their reproductive health. SSM is way too much the focus of the discussion here; it’s an important part, but only a part.

    There are Christian sects (and other religious groups in the US) that would not do business with me, a woman, if they had that choice, without my husband or another man present. The mason who built my chimneys and fireplaces refused to speak directly to me; he was a member of a fringe Mennonite sect that holds it improper for a man to speak to a woman not a member of his family without her male guardians present, and he would only speak to my general contractor. There are large areas of Indiana where his church holds sway, and I would, potentially, be unable to get a car repaired, purchase a lunch at a lunch counter, or get a night’s lodging were I traveling there alone.Report

  19. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    Speaking of tactics

    The Colorado Civil Rights Division on Friday ruled that the Denver bakery that refused to decorate cake with anti-gay slurs did not discriminate against the customer’s religion, according to the Associated Press. …. Colorado Civil Rights Division argued in its Friday ruling that Silva did not discriminate against Jack because she offered to bake the cake, and only refused to write the messages by which she was offended.

    This is interesting. If refusing to write the words “God hates fags” on a cake isn’t a form of discrimination, would refusing to place figures of two men holding hands on the top of the cake be considered non-discriminatory?

    From a tactical pov, cases like this one fascinate me since the purpose is to pin courts down on an inconsistency (seems to me). And from a pure tactical pov, this case is a clever one. Either the CO Civil RIghts Division finds that the practice was discriminatory (based on religious expression, say, in which case the dude wins) or they decide that the practices wasn’t discriminatory (in which case refraining from engaging in “offensive” behavior isn’t a form of discrimination, and the dude wins.)

    It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      There is a difference between refusing to bake any cake and refusing to bake a specific cake, no?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        zic,

        The guy who ordered the cake is trying to move the dial. I don’t agree with where he (presumably!) wants to take this. But he also doesn’t agree with me.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      From a purely utilitarian point of view, I want to be able to give people enough space on both sides. So if it’s easy to simply put the figurine on top, that’s cool. And if it’s easy to simply bake a cake, good too. It’s where you get when it’s no longer something “easy” to find someone else to do it, that I start to get concerned. I find far more of a compelling interest for “you’re the only doctor in town, see your damn patients”, than I do for one doc in the city.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      What irritates me (other than the fact that that guy used to be my youth group leader) is the deep suspicion that he had to go to several bakeries before he found one that turned him down.

      I’m sure that the first few places he went to had bored people cracking their gum behind the counter saying “Okay, okay, how many ‘g’s? Okay, okay, what flavor icing? Okay, okay.”Report

  20. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    In politics, I would argue, most of the things we insist are core values are in fact just tactics we use in order to win arguments and influence others in order to get very specific things that we want today. If we see something else we want tomorrow, we will abandon those same core values without a thought — and I mean that literally, because even though sometimes we do it consciously, usually we aren’t even aware we’re doing it.

    That depends on who you mean by ‘we’. If you mean individual people, yes.

    For example, witness the idiotic assault (Yes, I use that word literally) against that pizza place.(We are at the point that we need a law that is the internet equivalent of ‘inciting a riot’.) Way to be completely illiberal, guys. They literally did *nothing*. They answered a damn hypothetical, which isn’t even likely to happen, off the top of their head. The worst that should have happened is a few local people started boycotting them, and even that seems a bit excessive for a hypothetical.

    People are, basically, not paying attention to anything, and just want their side to win. If they’re told their side supports something, they’ll supposed it. This is true or everyone. All core values do is make a few people go ‘Hey, wait a second’…which does not stop a mob at all.

    However, when it comes to political parties, and politicians, that’s not the case. Now, let’s clarify here: We’re talking about *reversing* positions, and arguing the opposite direction. Not *abandoning* positions as unimportant, or giving them lip service while ignoring them, which both parties do, but actually saying ‘Law X upholds an important principle of ours’ and then later saying ‘X is horribly evil and we hate it’.

    And the Republicans seem to do that a hell of a lot more than Democrats.

    Probably because ‘conservative’ is actually a rather fluid and changeable thing. Does something have less government but is a new law? It can be conservative *or* anti-conservative. Does something increase the power of the executive? It can be conservative *or* anti-conservative. Is it government subsidies of something? It can be conservative *or* anti-conservative. Etc, etc.

    Or, to put it another way, conservatives, in addition to judging a law based on the effect on people, have a few *completely arbitrary* things they can judge laws on, like newness or size of government or how free-markety it is or tradition or all sorts of things. This means it’s pretty easy to be come up with *some* new reason a law is now good or bad, even if, until yesterday, the party held exactly the opposite view. Or how two almost identical laws are actually different.

    Whereas liberals and progressive are basically restricted to judging the supposed effect of the law on the people. This does still allow some change, by saying ‘We were wrong before on the effects, and we’re seen that/rethought it’, but there’s a lot less possible justifications.

    Interestingly, the Indiana RFRA, presents one of the few rare liberal exceptions to this. Pretty much anyone who’s actually looked at the law will conclude that it won’t actually allow what people (on both sides) seem to think it will. And liberals used to have no objection to RFRAs.

    But the law was being promoted as a promise to allow discrimination, even if it didn’t actually. So liberals flip-flopped on RFRAs, not because the law itself was much different than before, but because this example of it is an indirect statement that discrimination is now socially acceptable if religiously justified, whereas RFRAs, before this point, weren’t.

    But this sort of ‘We have always been at war with X’ is actually *really damn rare* of liberal politicians, whereas it happens *all the time* with conservative politicians.Report

    • Avatar A Compromised Immune System in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      For example, witness the idiotic assault (Yes, I use that word literally) against that pizza place

      Nearly a million dollars richer, the Pizza Bigots are laughing all the way to the bank. Some “assault.”Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to A Compromised Immune System
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        says:

        @a-compromised-immune-system

        That “assault” constituted threats that led the owners to fear for their safety and shut their down the business.

        But BSDI and the other side does it worse so I guess that makes it ok. That’s the crude if not slightly uncharitable interpretation of a 100-plus comment discussion on my Facebook feed, one I have no interest in repeating.

        That said, I almost co-sign with this @davidtc comment:

        Way to be completely illiberal, guys. They literally did *nothing*. They answered a damn hypothetical, which isn’t even likely to happen, off the top of their head. The worst that should have happened is a few local people started boycotting them, and even that seems a bit excessive for a hypothetical.

        The only part I disagree with is the boycott. I don’t think it’s excessive to choose to boycott based on one’s views. I see that as fair game.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to A Compromised Immune System
        Ignored
        says:

        “That “assault” constituted threats that led the owners to fear for their safety and shut their down the business.”

        While I have no doubt they received a bunch of (not very credible) threats from fools on Facebook, it defies credibility to say that’s why they shut down their business, especially after such a large windfall from the Gofundme circuit.

        What evidence do you have that Memories Pizza was “assaulted?” Was it reported to the authorities? Seems to me we’re being a bit slippery here, hyperbolizing rude noncriminal treatment into violent, criminal treatment.

        And missing the most reasonable explanation for why this pizza shop closed down. Which is this: They found that refusing to serve pizza was more lucrative than serving pizza.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to A Compromised Immune System
        Ignored
        says:

        Appealing to the timeline changes very little of what I wrote. The timeline is such that the two events are separated by hours, maybe a night.

        Are you really prepared to argue that these donations came in because the pizzeria closed? It seems quite obvious that the donations came in to support them ideologically, not to put bars on the windows, install cameras, and hire a security guard.

        This is not the first right-wing poster child who received a windfall after being “victimized” by liberal meanies. It’s kind of a thing now.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to A Compromised Immune System
        Ignored
        says:

        @dave
        The only part I disagree with is the boycott. I don’t think it’s excessive to choose to boycott based on one’s views. I see that as fair game.

        I meant more along the lines of ‘organizing a boycott’, as opposed to just personally avoiding, which is something I would probably do. Personally ‘boycotting’ something is not really the same thing as ‘organizing an boycott and trying to convince others to not go there’.

        I think the minimum for organizing a boycott of a business is they *did* something bad, some real action. Not just ‘said dumbass things off the cuff when asked’.

        Because, frankly, I suspect if I went and interviewed anyone who owned a business, at *some* point they’d say something I disapproved of. And I’m sure that *I* have said things they don’t agree with.

        And this is no way to run a society, requiring everyone to speak like Neutral Party politician. It’s actions that matter. At the very least, the action of making themselves active in the debate by trying to convince others. But this person didn’t even do that, she just responded to a damn TV reporter who asked a question of a dozen different places and found one business where a ‘controversial’ answer was given.

        Also, I don’t think we need to encourage that sort of bullshit reporting. ‘Here’s a controversy going on, let’s find some hapless people and try to get them to publicly take a side!’

        But whatever.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      “And the Republicans seem to do that a hell of a lot more than Democrats.”

      Witness all the Republican death threats against business owners who said they supported same-sex marriage.

      I mean, there must be some, right? After all, everyone knows what a bunch of jerks those Republicans are. I mean, both sides do it but Republicans do it more and louder and worse.

      “conservatives, in addition to judging a law based on the effect on people, have a few *completely arbitrary* things they can judge laws on”

      Like whether or not it promotes a female-friendly workplace, how much impact it has on the environment, the degree to which it improves corporate responsibility and reduces income inequality…oh wait, those aren’t really conservative causes, are they? D’oh.

      “Whereas liberals and progressive are basically restricted to judging the supposed effect of the law on the people. ”

      You say this like all those stories about “here’s so-and-so who had insurance until the ACA was passed and then suddenly she didn’t anymore, maybe the ACA was a bad law” were not judgments of the effect of a law on the people. (And that’s just one example; I could find more if it actually means something to you.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Internet mobs are a political universal.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        No, @chris, Internet mobs are on the other side. My side is just engaged activists using their freedom of speech and assembly.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Wait, are you on my side or another one? Because if you’re on my side, I agree.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        I wouldn’t want to belong to any side that would have me as a member.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph is objectively pro-Marx.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Draw enough lines and everyone’s on the same side of one of em.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Man, that’s harsh, @will-truman …what’d I ever do to you? 😉

        Somebody should start up a new sub blog around here and call it “OffSides”.

        @kolohe -weirdly, there’s a link to Marx in the music post going up tonight.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Or Zerosides, pronounced like it were named after a Greek philosopher who explored the vast limits of non-sidedness.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Edwin Abbott^2 fan fiction.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        @densityduck
        And the Republicans seem to do that a hell of a lot more than Democrats.

        It’s probably a mistake to actually attempt to engage in conversation with you, but you *do* realize that the ‘that’ in that sentence was not a reference to the mob-like behaviour of *both party’s supporters*.

        That was, literally, half the point of my comment. I pointed out that the *supporters* of each party behaved equally like unprincipled idiots, but that “‘We have always been at war with X’ is actually *really damn rare* of liberal politicians, whereas it happens *all the time* with conservative politicians.”

        Witness all the Republican death threats against business owners who said they supported same-sex marriage.

        I mean, there must be some, right? After all, everyone knows what a bunch of jerks those Republicans are. I mean, both sides do it but Republicans do it more and louder and worse.

        Jesus Christ. Death *threats*? I’m sure those exist. How about *actual violence*?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_violence_against_LGBT_people_in_the_United_States#2010.E2.80.93present

        Please noticing that, while that list seems long, it’s inaccurately named. It stops at the end of 2013.

        Like whether or not it promotes a female-friendly workplace, how much impact it has on the environment, the degree to which it improves corporate responsibility and reduces income inequality…oh wait, those aren’t really conservative causes, are they? D’oh.

        Uh, no, those are the *effects* of laws.

        Conservatives also judge laws based on that, but also have hypothetical objections based on the *structure* and other random attributes. They can be against laws because they are new, or because of ‘states rights’ or ‘local control’, or the ‘size of the law’. They can kill laws that was *even if they can’t argue against the effect of the law*. Or they can ignore that and support the law. *cough*medicare-part-D*cough*

        To put it another way, show me *any law* and I can come up with a conservative reason it’s a bad law *even if* it does everything supporters claims. I’ll claim it’s at the wrong level of government, or was too sudden a change, or violates tradition, or something.

        Liberals don’t really have anything like that, at least not very much. Although I did point out this RFRA battle was an exception. The objection there is to the signaling that law does about discrimination, not the actual effects of the law, which would be, uh, almost none except some nuisance lawsuits.

        You say this like all those stories about “here’s so-and-so who had insurance until the ACA was passed and then suddenly she didn’t anymore, maybe the ACA was a bad law” were not judgments of the effect of a law on the people. (And that’s just one example; I could find more if it actually means something to you.)

        I’m pretty sure I don’t ‘say this like that’, because I didn’t mention the ACA at all.

        More to the point, liberals *disagree* about the effects of the ACA, or, rather, think a few random examples (Many of which are just flat out lies) don’t justify undoing the *other effects* of the ACA, like giving insurance to millions of people.

        Conservatives, let us recall, had an objection to the ACA that it was ‘really big’. Seriously. That was one objection. (And they also objected to hypothetical effects of the law, most of which were nonsense, but whatever. My point is that one of the objections was really was the size. Like insurance regulations are *ever* small.)Report

  21. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    More tactics:

    The Louisiana bill, introduced by state Rep. Mike Johnson, lets businesses refuse to serve same sex couples, just like the one in Indiana.

    But the Louisiana proposal also goes a step further and allows a private company to not offer benefits to same-sex married couples if there are religious objections, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune. Notably, the legislation also blocks the Louisiana government from taking away state contracts and tax benefits from business owners because of the owners’ views on same-sex marriage.

    Well, this isn’t really a tactic, I guess. Or not primarily. It’s just a full-blown protection of actions resulting from religious beliefs.Report

  22. Avatar A Compromised Immune System
    Ignored
    says:

    Prior to this decade’s tipping point — that moment when those supporting gay rights and SSM moved from embattled minority to surprise majority — Republicans and conservatives argued that religious freedom for the minority was dangerous. Instead, they rallied around the Value of Majority Rules.

    Conservatives are inconsistent. In other news, water is wet.Report

  23. Avatar Lenoxus
    Ignored
    says:

    Whether we’re talking about same-sex marriage or other issues, conservatives and even non-conservatives don’t feel inconsistent about prizing the religious freedom of conservative Christianity over that of liberal Christianity and of other religions (such as Islam, whether conservative or liberal).

    I think one reason is that in this time and place, conservative Christianity is our culture’s “Platonic essence” of the concepts of religion and faith — especially for conservatives, less so but still significantly so for others. Both a diehard atheist and a born-again believer are likely to mentally associate “religion” with fundamentalism — even the way we use that word implies that opposition to abortion, homosexuality, and premarital sex are more “fundamental” to Christianity than the lack of those things. Unitarianism may be a religion, but it’s not a religion religion.

    Though I try to point out to fellow atheists that they give religion too much credit for coherence when they act like liberal-minded theists are “less religious” than their fundamentalist counterparts, I’ve still probably fallen in that trap a couple times. It’s hard not to. For one thing, Christians who accept homosexuality are likelier to also assent to ideas like “All religions have some of the truth”, rather than “my Christianity or the highway”. So yes, you can talk about how your acceptance isn’t just some laissez-faire deal but a positive love that is of a piece with Christ’s love, but are you really willing to say that Jesus burns homophobes in hell? Probably not, which is one reason people will still think of your attitude as “relativism” — which in turn implies lack of moral conviction, and hence a vague sense that your religious freedom can’t ever be under attack.

    Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that at some subconscious level, conservatives consider themselves the “true Scotsman” of the realm of religion, and in extreme cases mentally group all others into the same “not truly religious” category. That’s how Obama can easily be a godless atheist and a devout Muslim in the same moment.Report

  24. Avatar Richard Everitt
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    says:

    Referring to the initial post, something similar to the argument that forbidding gay marriage amounted to favoring some denominations over others surfaced in England, where Prime Minister Cameron made a bargain with the Archbishop of Canterbury which provided all gay marriages would be civil marriages and not religious ones. Some time later he received a Quaker delegation which informed him Quaker congregations would continue to marry whatever couples they chose, and by 300 years of precedent those marriages would be valid. So the bargain collapsed, as he found they were right, but luckily for his plans most of his opposition collapsed also. I am afraid that made life harder for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has a hard job holding Anglicans together, but that could not be helped.Report

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