November 15, 2004

Faultline on the Right

The Democratic Party is in shambles. John Kerry was, in all likelihood, unelectable this year. If he managed to make the center happy he could easily have handed a fatal number of peacenik votes to Ralph Nader.

The Republican Party, too, is on a collision course with itself. It may face a similar dilemma in 2008. Michael Crowley writes about the right’s new kingmaker, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
He's already leveraging his new power. When a thank-you call came from the White House, Dobson issued the staffer a blunt warning that Bush "needs to be more aggressive" about pressing the religious right's pro-life, anti-gay rights agenda, or it would "pay a price in four years." And when the pro-choice Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter made conciliatory noises about appointing moderates to the Supreme Court, Dobson launched a fevered campaign to prevent him from assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which until then he had been expected to inherit. Dobson is now a Republican kingmaker.

Surprisingly, though, this isn't a role he's traditionally sought or relished. An absolutist disgusted by the compromises of politics, he sneers at those who place "self-preservation and power ahead of moral principle." He has always kept his distance from Washington. Unlike Reed, a canny strategist above all, Dobson has talked about bringing down the GOP if it fails him. Yet as the gay-marriage movement surged this year, Dobson's moral outrage over the direction of American culture went supernova, asserting in his recent book Marriage Under Fire that Western civilization hangs in the balance. But now Dobson faces a difficult trial. He must decide which he hates more, Washington politics or cultural apocalypse.

Dobson is gearing himself up to play one of two roles in four years. He’ll be the right’s Michael Moore. Or he’ll be its Ralph Nader. If the Bush Administration surrenders to his agenda he will disgust and alienate a solid two thirds of the country. And if the Bush Administration blows off the religious right, as Republican presidents usually do, he’ll take his ball, go home, and lead a sizeable chunk of the GOP into the wilderness.

If he decides to stay in politics I hope he creates yet another “third” party to act as a nut magnet. The GOP could use the enema.

James Dobson is Pat Robertson without the anti-Americanism. He’s a loathsome individual who has zero appeal on the moderate right and even less on the left – assuming that’s possible.

He threw his political muscle behind Randall Terry and tried to get him a seat in Congress. (Terry’s most infamous quote: “I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good! We have a biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country!”)

He thinks gays are hell-bent on destroying Western Civilization.
Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself. This is a time for concerted prayer, divine wisdom and greater courage than we have ever been called upon to exercise. For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family. The institution of marriage, along with an often weakened and impotent Church, is all that stands in the way of its achievement of every coveted aspiration.
It’s fitting, then, that he compares legal steps toward gay marriage to Pearl Harbor. He thinks doctors who perform abortions ought to be executed.

I could go on, but why bother? You get the idea. James Dobson isn’t Mr. Popularity in the political center. And the political center decides who will be president. Wall Street conservatives, cosmopolitan neocons, right-libertarians, and right-leaning Independents are not going to stand for his nonsense.

If Dobson is happy with the next four years he’ll go out of his mind during the following four when the Democrats retake the White House. Or the Republican Party will tell him to shut up or pack. I think today would be a good time to tell him to shut up or pack, but of course I would say that. In any case, Bush doesn’t need the man’s pull anymore. It’s his job to lead the whole country, not the absolutist nuts on the fringes.

UPDATE: James Dobson doesn't want doctors who perform abortions executed. It was his pal Randall Terry who said that. Sorry for the mix up.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2004 06:35 PM
Comments

He thinks doctors who perform abortions ought to be executed.

You're officially a propagandist Michael, or just a tool of one.

Show me the quote. You won't find it, and the article you linked is simply beneath you.

I guess we all have our "faultlines", even you.

And FYI, at least half the country considers gay "marriage" a Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: David at November 15, 2004 06:47 PM

I believe my first comment here and I sent a trackback as well on an earlier post, what a night. What one won't do to avoid prep for lessons. Ah well.

Funny, 20 some years ago, I saw a Dobson book featured in the Wheaton Library-Wheaton, IL yes. Home of Billy Graham Center. A new mother, not too long married, (long enough), I checked it out. Agreed with some, but not much-ala "Total Woman", what the hell happened to Maribel Morgan anyways? I digress. (I really don't want to do lesson plans. . .)

Dobson will become a Buchanan, mark my words. He won't compromise.

Posted by: kathianne at November 15, 2004 06:50 PM

It's McCain in 2008 as a centrist. He'll diss the far right and make up for it by grabbing the much larger center - if of course he can get past the primaries. Why else is he on TV all the time? He's running.

Posted by: Joe Marino at November 15, 2004 06:55 PM

Oh yea, he'll win (without my vote).

Posted by: Joe Marino at November 15, 2004 06:56 PM

David,

You're right about the quote. I posted a correction.

Do tell, though, who I am a propadandist and a tool for. Don't say "the left." I promise there are plenty of people on the left in here will laugh if you do.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2004 07:05 PM

As someone who takes the issue of a hard line religious conservative faction potentially dominating the political sphere, do we really have to worry about this guy? He's a figurehead, very out of the mainstream and could become Buchanan 2.0 as Drum pointed out at WM, the real worries should be those who nibble subversively rather than attack with a chainsaw in public view the way zealots like Dobson do.

Posted by: Epitome at November 15, 2004 07:08 PM

I remember when there were conservatives that wanted to 'dump Reagan' as not being conservative enough.

Yawn. I don't think Dobson has the clout that the article suggests.

Posted by: Eric Blair at November 15, 2004 07:17 PM

You're right about the quote. I posted a correction.

Michael,

I take back what I said. You were not being a propagandist, you were merely being a tool (for the Leftists).

Posted by: David at November 15, 2004 07:20 PM

John Kerry was, in all likelihood, unelectable this year. If he managed to make the center happy he could easily have handed a fatal number of peacenik votes to Ralph Nader.

Your premise is counterfactual. Kerry won comfortably among moderates. It is just that moderates constituted a smaller proportion of the vote than recent years.

Posted by: Mork at November 15, 2004 07:28 PM

Mork,

Kerry lost the center. (Defining the center as the median.) The 50th percentile went to Bush, not to Kerry.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2004 07:30 PM

Just remember, Mork. I'm a tool for the leftists. (Says David.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2004 07:30 PM

Kerry lost the center. (Defining the center as the median.)

Cute, but your sentence impliedly defined the center in terms of a policy proposition.

Just remember, Mork. I'm a tool for the leftists. (Says David.)

I tend to agree with David's original charge that you are a propagandist. Unfortunately, it's more difficult to recogize a propagandist when they are agitating in a direction you support, which might explain why David has only just noticed.

Posted by: Mork at November 15, 2004 07:52 PM

LOL!

that was funny Mork.

Posted by: David at November 15, 2004 07:53 PM

You know, last night there was a special on CNN about the rise of the political power of evangelicals. Given CNN's record of being out in front of stories, does this mean that the rise of the evengelicals is now over?

With regards to McCain, does anybody think his age might be an issue? He'll be 72 in 2008. No doubt a vigorous 72, but it still may be an issue.

Posted by: Dave Ruddell at November 15, 2004 08:17 PM

He does have an apocalyptic tone to much of his message.

Even some of the harder right folks criticize his authoritative stance on theological issues when his background is in psychology.

Posted by: Norm C at November 15, 2004 08:18 PM

Prediction:

Bush, whose opinion of this guy would make Stern raise his eyebrows, will try to peel Dobson's support away from underneath by tossing a few bones to his followers.

The MSM will spin this as "Omichomsky, Moore and Keilor were right! Theocracy, incoming!" and inflate all the conciliatory gestures to Dobson's constituency into part of the Major Plot.

The intermediate result will be an enormous increase in publicity (and therefore support) for Dobson. This in turn will mean Bush has to increase the tastiness of the bones tossed and may even compel him to contribute some raw meat. Dobson, who is currently a fringe influence, will inflate in importance.

That importance, driven entirely by the media and the Left's paranoia, will peak at roughly the Buchanan level, after which Dobson will regress to bit player once more.

The media will try desperately to stretch the cycle to include the 2006 election campaign, but I don't think Dobson has the staying power to hold up his end of the bargain, so I don't expect any really severe damage. I could be wrong.

If the Left wants to minimize the actual damage to the country, they should spin Dobson as Elmer Fudd: "Watta maroon." Unfortunately this would help Bush, so it's about as likely as Carville registering Republican.

Regards,
Ric Locke

Posted by: Ric Locke at November 15, 2004 08:20 PM

Hey Michael,

Garrison Keilor said evangelicals shouldn't have the right to vote, to the rousing applause of his Liberal audience. Are you going to quote him on that anytime soon? You're worried about our democracy aren't you?

Posted by: David at November 15, 2004 08:23 PM

David, please stop baiting Michael. He is perfectly within his right to ban you for that kind of behavior.

Posted by: FH at November 15, 2004 08:27 PM

Cute, but your sentence impliedly defined the center in terms of a policy proposition.

Which I guess kind of begs the question of where exactly a static center lies in an ever-changing political landscape.

Posted by: Nathan Hamm at November 15, 2004 08:27 PM

I really think you should strike that sentence about the killing of abortion doctors, not just add an update. That's a strong statement.

On Dobson: I'll check with my mom, but I think you're vastly overstating his "power." Did Terry get his seat?

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at November 15, 2004 08:32 PM

FH,

I'm gentle in my Michael-baiting; and I don't think he needs you to protect him.

Posted by: David at November 15, 2004 08:33 PM

My speculation FWIW (probably not much):

The Republican Party will eventually split between social liberals and social/religious conservatives. This is a "meme" (God how I hate that word) going around which you've probably heard. As a socially liberal moderate suburban Republican, I personally would like to see that happen, but only after we've allowed the Democratic Party to continue to atrophy into a minor, third party. Then the socially liberal former Republicans would become the new liberal party, the new Democrats, and the social/religious conservatives would be the new conservative party, the new Republicans.

The difficulty will be '08 and Hillary. There's a good possibility that Giuliani will run and get a good shot at the Republican nomination. This will in turn likely lead to a revolt by religious conservatives. They might even get behind someone else, (Rick Santorum or Gary Bauer or whomever) who will run as an independent or form the beginnings of the new conservative party. The only problem is they would be doing this while they are running against Hillary, the only formidable candidate for president left in the entire Democratic Party. If we could just hold off this schism a little bit longer, the Democratic Party will be in such a shambles it won't even be able to run anyone who could win even in this hypothetical three-way race.

The above is all purely hypothetical, speculative, and I realize there are million holes in it, but it does, I think, reflect the fragility of the Republican coalition. The big X factor will be where we are in the war on terror in the next few presidential elections. If foreign policy concerns are still at the forefront, the religious conservatives might be more willing to unite behind a Giuliani-type figure.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at November 15, 2004 08:49 PM

Eric,

there won't be a split. The fiscal conservatives will simply through the social conservatives the occassional bone off the table, a scrap or two from time to time, like nominating a strict constructionist to the Court (who won't get approved anyway), and that way they'll keep stringing them along without having to actually ever deliver. Maybe Bush will make a statement or two that makes the Libs mad, but no legislation to back it up. You'll see. The Michael Tottens of the world have no reason whatsoever to panic; and that's why it's so silly to see them quoting Ted Rall in their desperation. Much ado about nothing.

Posted by: David at November 15, 2004 08:55 PM

The fiscal conservatives will simply THROW the social conservatives the occassional bone off the table,

Posted by: David at November 15, 2004 08:56 PM

David,

I only quote Ted Rall if I'm going to bitch-slap him.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2004 09:15 PM

Also, David, Garrison Keilor was joking. No one who isn't a felon will have their right to vote taken away.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2004 09:17 PM

"James Dobson doesn't want doctors who perform abortions executed. It was his pal Randall Terry who said that."

so did Republican Senator-elect Tom Coburn of Oklahoma!

And he's not even necessarily going to be the worst Republican Senator from Oklahoma...that will be quite a sweepstakes.

Posted by: Katherine at November 15, 2004 09:27 PM

and I think the next sentence from Dobson after you chopped the quote is even worse:

"Those goals include univer-sal acceptance of the gay lifestyle, discrediting of Scriptures that condemn homosexuality, muzzling of the clergy and Christian media, granting of special privileges and rights in thelaw, overturning laws prohibiting pedophilia, indoctrinating children and future generations through public education, and securing all the legal benefits of marriage for any two or more people who claim to have homosexual tendencies."

Posted by: Katherine at November 15, 2004 09:48 PM

"Wall Street conservatives, cosmopolitan neocons, right-libertarians, and right-leaning Independents are not going to stand for his nonsense."

I sound like a broken record, I know, but they have stood for it. They did. They decided tax cuts or the Iraq war were more important. You did the same. You, and they, may do so again for the GOP candidate in 2008.

Dobson has already helped set policy. He had weekly conference calls with Bush's top domestic policy guy (Rove). He has input into the Supreme Court nomination process. Not to mention the marriage amendment, which Bush is going to keep pushing for. Bush paid no political price for this at all on November 2. It helped him, though how much it helped him--whether it just ran up the popular vote totals or was one of several different "but for" causes of the victory in Ohio--is unclear. And Bush doesn't even need to be re-elected, and the midterm elections are much more about exciting your base than the presidential elections.

I assume there is a line they can't cross before they start losing too many swing voters and maybe even some moderate Senators, but I have no idea where that line is.

Posted by: Katherine at November 15, 2004 10:00 PM

MT,

I suspect this guy will do a Buchanan. I suppose we'll see. I've got no problem supporting a new party headed by McCain/Lieberman/Bayh in which we fight about domestic policy but are foreign policy hawks for the forseeable future. Of course, the Dems have got to dissappear first. Won't happen.

I assume there is a line they can't cross before they start losing too many swing voters and maybe even some moderate Senators, but I have no idea where that line is.

Given the dominant voices in the Dem party (Dean saying W is worse than Milosevich?) I suspect that line is moving further and further away. You are not providing a credible alternative. Sorry, Jed Bartlett is only an option on TV.

Posted by: spc67 at November 15, 2004 10:16 PM

Katherine: I sound like a broken record, I know, but they have stood for it. They did.

Do you stand with every left-of-center person?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2004 10:17 PM

michael:
yes, garrison keillor was joking. some joke.
what's it gonna take to teach us democrats that jokes like these, and the attitudes behind them, have bought us a 1-way ticket to palookaville?

Posted by: greeneyeshade at November 15, 2004 10:36 PM

Do you stand with every left-of-center person?

Dumb analogy. The GOP is the government. The people who Katherine is taking about had a direct and measurable influence on the outcome of actual policy. When you vote for that government, you vote for the whole package.

As usual, you hold the opposition to a standard to which you never hold anyone with actual power.

Posted by: Mork at November 15, 2004 10:40 PM

Actually, I wouldn't say you stood with Dobson. (If I ever did, I was overwrought in the immediate aftermath of the election and I apologize.) "Stand for it" to me is different--it means "put up with it". You don't have to like something to put up with it. There's a lot I dislike about the Dems, but I keep donating, volunteering, and voting for them so I guess I'm putting up with it.

And Dobson is also a powerful guy. There are plenty of people on the left I would rather not be associated with, but to my knowledge none had weekly conference calls with Kerry's top advisor, input into judicial nominees, input into what Constitutional amendments to support...

I don't think people would stand for it if the GOP and its powerful allies talked about Jews or blacks the way they talk about gays. I don't think agreeing about the Iraq war would trump. I'm trying to figure out why that is--part of it is obviously homophobia, but it also seems to be true even among people who strongly believe in gay rights and gay marriage. I guess it's just a question of the status quo, and what you're used to--I was always pro gay marriage but didn't feel very strongly about it until Goodridge. What brought it home is the idea that people would actually be voting about whether or not to tear up my marriage license.

You can actually make a case that it's defensible, to hold one kind of prejudice more against a candidate than another even if you think they're equally wrong. That you have to judge someone in the context of his times. Some of the founding fathers owned slaves. And I find prejudices against racial or ethnic minorities and against gay people a lot more forgivable in my grandparents' generation than my own.

But some things are just dealbreakers. Gay bashing is one of them. Pandering to gay bashers is less clear cut, but I think that probably is too...of course I've never been really tested on that since I think Bush's policy is exactly wrong in almost any area you can think of.

Posted by: Katherine at November 15, 2004 11:51 PM

Mork: Dumb analogy. The GOP is the government. The people who Katherine is taking about had a direct and measurable influence on the outcome of actual policy. When you vote for that government, you vote for the whole package.

Mork, Mork, Mork. If your guy won people would say exactly the same thing to and about you.

I'm real sorry that the complicated American political geography is reduced to an asinine binary choice. But that's how it is.

I also voted for Democrats in Congress and at the local level. They are part of the government, too. So I guess I "stand" with both Michael Moore and James Dobson. Except I don't.

If you want to completely ignore everything I've ever written about such cretinous people, go right ahead. Whatever. I know who I stand with and who I don't. So does anyone who pays even the slightest bit of attention to what I have to say.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2004 12:00 AM

Katherine: I don't think people would stand for it if the GOP and its powerful allies talked about Jews or blacks the way they talk about gays.

You are right. I hate it. Keep in mind, though, that more than 50 percent of those who voted for Bush support gay civil unions. So I'm not ready to write off the entire party as homophobic. Some of them obviously are and some of them obviously aren't. I wish it were better than it is, but it's better than it has ever been. So that's something.

Besides, I don't need to remind you that John Kerry also opposes gay marriage, do I? I don't need to remind you that my very blue left-wing state voted to ban gay marriage, do I? And I don't need to remind you that I voted against the gay marriage ban, do I?

Or do I? Try to remember who you are arguing with here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2004 12:06 AM

Moore does not have any policy influence; Dobson does. It's a real difference, and not just a function of us losing.

The comparable figure to Moore would be....some composite of Ann Coulter and Mel Gibson, maybe. The comparable figure to Dobson, as far as influence....I don't know who gets weekly conference calls on our side. A union president, maybe, but the GOP is actually promoting the religious right's agenda much more forcefully than the Dems (except Gephardt) promote labor.

The Democrats are wusses on gay marriage. What can I say. But they do actively support civil unions, actively oppose the constitional amendment, do not participate in the gay bashing, support laws against employment discrimination, support hate crimes legislation including sexual orientation (I can see why you'd oppose all hate crimes but not support it for race and oppose it for sex). I bet Kerry would have lifted Don't Ask Don't Tell, though I can't prove it.

The exit poll figure I saw said that over 50% of those who supported civil unions voted for Bush, not that over 50% of Bush voters supported civil unions. Not the same thing. Since gay marriage + civil unions got a small majority over all, I would guess that fewer than 50% of Bush supporters approved of either.

Still, I think most of the GOP, like most of the Democrats, are open to persuasion and compromise on this issue. But the Democrats not open to persuasion are on the right side, and the Republicans not open to persuasion are on the wrong side. And when it comes to the leadership...the Democrats are by and large cowards, but too many of the Republicans are either homophobes or demagogues. The only Democratic Senator who voted for the marriage amendment was Zell Miller.

As for Oregon. 57-43, as bad as it is, is rather different from 93-7 or whatever it was in Mississippi. At the opposite extreme, I would bet money my blue state is going to reject its gay marriage amendment, and we just gained seats in the legislature. But we're the very bluest state of all.

Posted by: Katherine at November 16, 2004 01:02 AM

"What brought it home is the idea that people would actually be voting about whether or not to tear up my marriage license."

Oh, I think I just fictionally outed myself up there. Actually, I am straight and married. The point was, after getting married and after the marriages in Massachusetts started going forward...it became absurd and infuriating to me that I had good friends whose marriage licenses' could be taken away from them, two years after their wedding, depending on the results of a referendum. If you put yourself in their shoes, and imagine people who've never met you voting on whether you can stay married--it's ridiculous. Like something out of a bad reality show.

Also, I got married on the date the 14th amendment was ratified. Not deliberately, but a coincidence I was dorky enough to be excited about.

So to see people using my marriage as an excuse to attack my friends, just got to me. And here I am, promoting the radical homosexual agenda.

Posted by: Katherine at November 16, 2004 01:15 AM

I think Mork and David should battle it out over who gets to claim Michael as an evil enemy propagandist for the other side.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at November 16, 2004 01:17 AM

Katherine: So to see people using my marriage as an excuse to attack my friends, just got to me. And here I am, promoting the radical homosexual agenda.

I understand. I have gay friends, too. One of my gay friends is black, is in a mixed-race "marriage," and has an adopted white daughter. He is a certain kind of person's worst nightmare. In my city people don't get bent out of shape about stuff like that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2004 02:10 AM

Joshua: I think Mork and David should battle it out over who gets to claim Michael as an evil enemy propagandist for the other side.

I'll grab me some popcorn.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2004 02:11 AM

Thanks for replicating my 11/4 idea that no Dem could have won this year, Michael.
http://tomgrey.motime.com/1099581990#368736
(You never link, you never visit)

I believe "marriage" is not for two -- it's for the two PLUS their children. I want "marriage" for this. I do not like excessive promiscuity, nor excessive profanity -- and claim both keep poor people poor. [If you really want to help the poor...]

Dobson's power comes from book, like the anti-war Dr. Spock's, but Dobson wrote Christian oriented books about raising children. Lots of Christians like the books. He's not going away, and I think Katherine's continued quote shows why:
"discrediting of Scriptures that condemns homosexuality"

Hating the sin of homosexual behavior, while loving the sinner, is almost impossible.
A modern, tolerant, civil unions seems to me the place we should get to, but that is one which accepts gay-unions not adopting children, for instance, AND allowing Dobson or Ake Green (in Sweden) to claim homosexuals are a cancer in society.

(Green sentenced to a month in jail, don't know if he servered. Recent EU Commission was NOT confirmed because one Commissioner expresed his Catholic opposition to homosexual behavior)

The gay lifestyle, and "responsible promiscuity", is the kind of Temptation that the Lord's Prayer is asking Our Father to lead us not into.

There is now, and will most likely remain, a lot more devout Christians than homosexuals. There has already been an ending of the unjust sodomy laws, the "far-right" lost on this. What, if anything, are the "radical Leftists" willing to compromise on, less than full "marriage" for homosexuals?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 16, 2004 02:30 AM

Michael, I have mixed race friends too, even here in Slovakia there are a few Black-white couples.

"Sex reduces racism" -- when great kids are born and belong to both (neither?) races.

The mild Jewish racism against marrying non-Jews, stronger almost everywhere outside America, is an underdiscussed aspect of hatred towards them.

I wonder about your gay friend in a "marriage" -- just for social convenience so that his wife can have a daughter? (Disappointment / pity for daughter rather than disapproval -- I support gays being "married" to opposite sex mates being legal)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 16, 2004 02:37 AM

Michael Totten needs to face reality and join the Republican Party. He will then be able to work within its structure to restrain the religious Right. The Democrats are not likely to have much power in Washington, DC for a long time into the future. The latter political organization is no longer a viable entity. Only those who are incredibly wealthy possess a voice. This is not the case with the Republican Party.

Posted by: David Thomson at November 16, 2004 05:24 AM

Michael -

Excellent post. I believe (now, as I did during my seven years with the Green Party) that the two-party system is not going to last - and that's a good thing.

On gay marriage, my first choice would be full recognition of gay marriages, but realistically I don't think the public support will exist for another 25 - 40 years. Perhaps a better choice would be, as some conservatives say, to "get the Government out of the marriage business". The sanctity of marriage is important ... and that sanctity is conferred by the Church, not the State. Marriage is much more than a contract between two people - but in the eyes of the State, it shouldn't be.

Couples - straight or gay - who rely on a marriage license from the State for confirmation of that "sanctity" are looking in the wrong place. This is exactly why the First Amendment establishes a separation of government and religion. Insofar as marriage is holy and spiritual, to exactly that extent it must be the domain of religious institutions.

If a proper church-state separation were maintained in the sphere of marriage, each religious body - whether traditional or liberal - would be free to decide who may marry whom, while the Government would stay focused on contractual rights and obligations.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at November 16, 2004 05:24 AM

Oh by the way, a little over a week ago I predicted that Condoleezza Rice would be the Republican standard bearer in 2008. Think what that will do to the Democratic Party. When will the funeral be held?

Posted by: David Thomson at November 16, 2004 05:28 AM

David, I don't know what MJT's plans are, but I joined the Republican party (and Log Cabin Republicans) a year ago and I've been happy with that decision. Who knows what the future holds for the GOP? I think the next few years are going to be very interesting.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at November 16, 2004 05:28 AM

David,

Heh! I joined the Dems when primary season began, just so I could vote for Lieberman. Turned out he didn't even make it to Oregon.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at November 16, 2004 05:30 AM

Mr. Grey,

Promiscuity and profanity keep the poor poor?

This seems counterintuitive, considering the great number of very wealthy, very promiscuous, very profane celebrities we have in our society.

Perhaps these things are really the key to financial success?

But facetiousness (meant in good humor) aside, I have an honest question for you, as you seem both comfortable with your faith and disaproving of homosexuality as a sin because of the scriptures.

Considering that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, and that the issue comes up in the Bible only a handful (if that) of times, but that Jesus was clear in his condemnation of divorce, why is there so much vitriol against homosexuality and not divorce?

Why, for example, did we see a number of ballot initiatives to ban gay marriage, but not to ban straight divorce?

I honestly have a deep curiosity about this disconnect - why, for example, evangelical Christians have one of the highest rates of divorce among religious groups in this country, even more so than among atheists.

I'd appreciate it if you could shed any light on this.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 05:38 AM

Blogtheist brings up some good points. Especially on the matter of divorce, because I think it touches on church/state separation. Roman Catholics are not permitted to divorce - yet most other religious groups do permit it. Does one person's right as a Protestant, Jew, Muslim, or atheist to divorce, somehow undermine the sanctity of a Catholic marriage? I don't think so; and I don't think you can argue otherwise without explicitly rejecting church/state separation.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at November 16, 2004 05:48 AM

Regarding gays and the destruction of western civ... I think it's important to distinguish between people who are homosexual, and the political gay movement. Big difference.

Without getting too deep into my Frankfurt School philosophers, the stated goal of many theorists (leagal and political) leading the gay movement at the intellectual level is the destruction of western social institutions as tools of the oppressors. This is part and parcel of Herbert Marcuse's philosophy, that the outlaw must be privileged over the law-abiding, the outcast over the establishmentarianist, the criminal over the cop. A number of law professors leading the charge on gay marriage, for example, are quite open about their desire to destroy traditional notions of marriage.

I'm reasonably sure that homosexuality isn't really an intrinsic part of the neo-marxist Frankfurt movement - Marcuse was quite clear that once society was broken down sufficiently, the radicals who made the revolution possible would have to be gotten rid of. Rather, homosexuality as a political movement is a tool by which the left can bring down a fundamental social institution, marriage - a tool that can be thrown away later.

And for what it's worth, I'm not hanging with Fred Phelps in my spare time. I've got at least one gay family member that I know of, gay friends, and I'm a pretty open minded and tolerant guy - but I do pay close attention to what motivates my political enemies, and what they say about their own causes.

Posted by: Al Maviva at November 16, 2004 05:53 AM

“Heh! I joined the Dems when primary season began, just so I could vote for Lieberman.”

I also preferred Joseph Lieberman over George W. Bush. The fact that he did so poorly is overwhelming evidence that the Democratic Party is finished. Lieberman is a marginalized figure. The ultra wealthy liberals like George Soros now run things. They are not going anywhere---so that means you will have to leave.

Posted by: David Thomson at November 16, 2004 05:54 AM

Funny, a good friend of mine who is homosexual said the same thing to me about the intent of the gay "marriage" movement as Dobson said, that the higher-ups in the gay movement are indeed determined to undermine the constructs of family. As far as my friend is concerned he is "Over the Rainbow" and wants his identity back. He also insists he not be called "gay".

Thinking that all homosexuals believe in gay marriage is like thinking that all females find abortion acceptable, both are fallacies.

Posted by: syn at November 16, 2004 05:55 AM

Al Maviva, do you have some links supporting your claims?

Posted by: lindenen at November 16, 2004 06:07 AM

Some good points - not all gays are pro-marriage. Many old-school lesbians (and some new-school ones as well) view marriage as a "patriarchal" institution. Without getting into all the politics and meta-politics, I think the one avenue that offers a reasonable chance of consensus is the civil-unions approach. Equal legal rights - for everyone. And "marriage" is whatever your church says it is.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at November 16, 2004 06:09 AM

Michael,
You disapoint. Too much Liberal Kool aid I suppose. I live in Colo Springts where he ought to be a big deal. He can't even influence (nor does he want to) local politics. You beginning to sound like a member of the Hysterical Blue state Left. (HBSL). Knock it off and get back to reasonsed debate will you.

Posted by: mike at November 16, 2004 06:24 AM

Considering that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, and that the issue comes up in the Bible only a handful (if that) of times, but that Jesus was clear in his condemnation of divorce, why is there so much vitriol against homosexuality and not divorce?

Blogtheist,

Jesus didn't mention pedophilia either, nor goatfucking, nor sacrificing children to Baal. Go for it.

And the Bible only condemns homosexuality "a handful of times". Go for it.

You're obviously well steeped in the hermeneutics of Scripture.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 06:48 AM

Blogtheist,

divorce is permitted in the Bible under certain circumstances, but is not referred to as an "abomination" as homosexuality is.

Also, nobody on the Left is making divorce a constitutional issue, so why should christians. If the Left wasn't turning gay marriage into a constitutional issue by their manipulation of the courts to undermine the will of the people at the state legislatures, then you'd not see christians making a big stink about gay marriage amendments.

This didn't start with the christians, it started with the gay activists.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 06:54 AM

David,

You're certainly the charmer.

I believe homosexuality, or at least male homosexuality, is referenced in Leviticus. It is described, as is the eating of shellfish, as an abomination. Talk about moral relativism.

I believe it is also mentioned by Paul in Romans as a vile affection placed upon some men by God.

There are some others that are commonly used as examples of Biblical injunctions against homosexuality, as in Genesis, but these are actually injunctions against adultry. The gender of the parties involved is never mentioned. Or, in the case of Sodom, vile acts are mentioned, but homosexuality is never named.

You would think that if Jesus really, really disaproved of homosexuality, he would have found the time to mention it at least once. He certainly found the time to discuss and condemn divorce.

I wasn't trying to argue that an absence of mention is proof of approval. I was trying to point out the vast disconnect between the priorities set up by Jesus, and the priorities of religious conservatives. Certainly a divorce rate of 50% in this country should be more cause for action among the followers of Jesus than the relative handful of homosexuals - probably around 5% - who might want to get married.

Considering this disconnect between the scriptures and their priorities, I would argue that there is another, non-scriptual basis for banning gay marriage, and that those who base their arguments on the scriptures are hypocrites. If they wish to make an argument against it, fine, but they should stop abusing the scriptures they claim to defend.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 07:08 AM

Other things that are toebah:

Re-marrying a divorced woman.
Having sex during a woman's menstrual period.
Cursing your father or mother.
Using dishonest weights and measures.
The shedding of blood.
Lying.
Stealing.
Running a census.

Posted by: FactCheck at November 16, 2004 07:22 AM

Divorce might be permitted by the Bible under certain cirumstances, but here are a few other things also endorsed, at various times, by the scriptures: murder, genocide, killing pregnant women, incest, and slavery.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 07:31 AM

You often hear how intolerant the Democratic Party is toward pro-lifers. I'm sure it will astound some people to learn that the new Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, is pro-life.

source: EJ Dionne's excellent op-ed today in the Post on Republican moderates.

Posted by: Markus Rose at November 16, 2004 07:33 AM

Blogtheist,

if Jesus didn't mention stuff in the NT, such as homosexuality, it was because they weren't issues at controversy. Other issues were controversial however, such as sabbath observance, the poor, and generally ignoring the spirit of the law in favor of the letter of the law. He forcefully addressed those issues, and the text is clear as to why.

I agree that divorce is more destructive to marriage than homosexuality. By far. In fact I think sexual freedom in the culture at large is to blame here, not gays. Also, no fault divorce, which was brought to you by the culture destroyers. But what I've already tried to tell you is that if gays weren't making themselves the issue right now, it's very likely christians would be addressing those other issues instead of gay amendments.

Also, you cannot separate our culture from the Scriptures and say that people are being hypocrites for citing scripture. Both are related. Our culture springs from the Jewish scriptures. We are, and have been, a judeo-christian culture for almost 2 millenia. When people cite scripture, they are citing the legal authority for defending their culture.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 07:33 AM

Also, if someone is raped and they don't scream loud enough, it's their fault. According to the bible.

Posted by: FactCheck at November 16, 2004 07:36 AM

Blogtheist,

the penalty for ALL sin is death. That is a consistent theme in the OT. But Jesus paid that price. Yet it remains a sin. That is the consistent theme of the NT.

If you don't know that then you really don't know what you're talking about.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 07:38 AM

Factcheck,

you're an idiot.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 07:38 AM

David,

Thanks. I mean that. You really elevate the discussion. I sincerly hope your bring your own unique blend of humility and action packed language to the world stage. Good luck on the bar exam!

Posted by: Factcheck at November 16, 2004 07:49 AM

Of course, the argument could be made that our legal code stems less from Jewish law and more from other sources, including Greek pagan law, northern European pagan and tribal law, the legal traditions of the early English kingdoms, and the charter of the Iroquois Confederation (in the form of our modern federalism).

But maybe you're right, David, that I don't understand how a message that was overwhelmingly about love, kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance of the weakest, the lowest, and the outcast, could ever be used to justify hate. But that's just me, I guess.

And as for gays making it an issue, well, I guess they just have bad examples. It's like those uppity blacks, having the nerve to demand the right to marry a white person if they want. Or those damn women, wanting the right to vote. I mean, how dare people make an issue out of a right they feel they deserve as human beings?

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 07:49 AM

Factcheck,

take note of my discussion with Blogtheist and with you. See any difference? You're comment was crass and didn't deserve a serious response.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 07:52 AM

David,

Thanks, from the bottom of my heart. I see now that I was far too rude to you when I gave you a comprehensive list of things the bible called "toebah." Certainly, your unique combination of genteel language and gentle disagreement should be a model for us all.

Posted by: FactCheck at November 16, 2004 07:58 AM

Sorry blogtheist, apples and oranges. Those weren't issues of Biblical morality, and even many blacks object to that analogy. I think christians have been pretty good generally about keeping it to the pulpit over the last 200+ years. But I guess enough's enough. Except of course as abolitionists trying to free the slaves, and during the civil rights movement. They were pretty much in your face about that too.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 08:00 AM

Factcheck,

I sincerely apologize for flaming you like that. I should have just ignored that comment. I know that won't be good enough for you, but there it is.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 08:03 AM

David,

Thanks so much for your comment. I especially like how you state that intermarriage wasn't an issue of biblical morality, when the Loving vs. VA Judge issued his famous decision with:

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

I really appreciate how you use your unique blend of accuracy and resolve to unquestionably clarify the historical record for us!

Posted by: FactCheck at November 16, 2004 08:14 AM

David,

Thanks so much for your apology. I accept it, in the unique blend of comity and consilation it was offered, and offer my apology in return.

Posted by: FactCheck at November 16, 2004 08:17 AM

Factcheck,

I'm aware that the Bible has been used to condone everything from racism to genocide-- your racist judge is an example of that. Unfortunately, his interpretation of Scripture was as flawed as yours is.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 08:22 AM

What exactly is my interpretation of the scripture? I looked through what I've written and I couldn't find it there. Perhaps you could inform me?

Posted by: FactCheck at November 16, 2004 08:40 AM

Frankly I have zero interest in 2008 and could not care less whether both parties self-destruct in an orgy of mutual stupidity.That said, I feel that the destructive urges of the 'right'are vastly over-rated,and that what ever disagreements in 'tone'might exist, these pale in comparison to the contempt felt for the leftists in the Democratic Party.But I have no idea what the future holds for the current political axis which will probably depend on the influence of 'external'factors.
I just want GWB to continue on for 4 more years killing terrorists and severely ignorant Islamists in very large quantities, and hopefully finding ways to humiliate France at every opportunity.
Simplistic I know and not as important as 'gay'anything,but comforting to me.On a completely unrelated front,I find the latest media furor over the 'execution' in Iraq to be distasteful in the extreme.The media constantly gives'aid and comfort' to the enemy and frankly I am sick of it.To be blunt,I am not qualified to judge a man who is putting his life on the line 24-7. The media are all like a 'fifth column'working ceaselessly to ensure defeat of the 'good guys'(who by the way happen to be US).
These defeatist, whiny ,amoralists sicken me and are increasingly a blight upon our society.

Posted by: dougf at November 16, 2004 09:21 AM

Lindenen, just because it's not on the web doesn't mean it's not true, and vice versa; but there are some nice quotes about "the movement" here:

http://www.cwfa.org/printerfriendly.asp?id=4649&department=cfi&categoryid=papers

One person quoted at the CWFA website, Paula Ettelbrick, is a good person to start with if you want bibliography - look up her interviews and professional affiliations and work outward. Here 1989 essay "Since When Is Marriage a Path to Liberation?" is a good starting point. On the page cited, she is quoted as telling us "We must keep our eyes on the goals of providing true alternatives to marriage and of radically reordering society's view of reality."

Hmmmm... maybe she's not a member of the reality based community, I guess.

As for Marcuse... well, I encourage you to wade through his BS on your own. A good starting point is Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud, available at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0807015555/qid=1100625895/sr=8-3/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i3_xgl14/104-8188663-6839150?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Marcuse' basic argument in that book is that we have to free our libido completely to experience a utopian existance - and that marriage is the primary oppressive structure standing in between us, and total freedom so it has to be destroyed so that we can all be amazingly free. You probably don't believe me that somebody would write such horseshit or that others would believe it, so go read the book yourself, and then take a look at the left and see if you can spot the outlines of Marcusian tactics. As I was getting at above, many of the leaders and cheerleaders of the gay marriage movement aren't particularly interested in the humanitarian and economic goal of helping homosexual couples achieve domestic stability; rather, the crusade is to overturn a basic societal building block that they view as the enemy.

Posted by: Al Maviva at November 16, 2004 09:31 AM

On Reid: "I've heard that he voted against partial birth abortion, but that's really not a litmus test," Wright said. "I know he gets labeled pro-life, but I'm really not aware of him working on these issues."
http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2004/Nov-04-Thu-2004/news/25173190.html

The Dems need to come to grips with a moderate life/choice policy, not the radical one it mostly has been publicizing. Perhaps we'll see a non-radical Dem, willing to outlaw abortion in the most horrible, irresponsible cases.

Michael, a recent M. Novak article noted that abortion, on demand, anytime before birth is still legal in America. I know late-terms are rare, but don't know if there's any time when it's genuinely illegal. You claimed it was (in an early thread).

Back to Dobson, and Focus on the Family. I think he is concerned about, and opposes, divorce.
http://www.family.org/fofmag/pp/a0024006.cfm

I know I do. Most especially for families with kids (Kerry got a Catholic annulment -- "never married").

They have an international Holland side, directed by Rod Hondsmerk:
The movement toward free sex began in the 1960s, as in many other places. "The children of those years are parents now," Hondsmerk says. "Add in a declining belief in God and it has an impact not just on society, but the church. Our children are the first generation where we have to explain God’s plan for marriage."

And perhaps most shocking of all is the incidence of incest in Dutch culture, even within Christian homes. In 1989 a national survey found that 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 20 boys were victims of incest. In 1999, a repeat survey found those figures to be 1 in 5 and 1 in 10, respectively.

"We deal with one new incest case a day from Christian homes," Hondsmerk says. "It’s not even a big news story anymore. In 10 years the penalties for incest went from, for example, 15 years in prison to 240 hours of community service."

Many children already think incest is normal because their parents tell them so and they don’t know any better, he adds, and while the current age of consent is 14, some are trying to lower that to age 12.

"Family Values" is a protest against consumer sex, materialist sex, pleasure sex, and sex without love for the other person. I now consider it masturbating inside somebody -- and I regret doing so when younger.

Where is promiscuity leading society? Yeah, the rich, famous, jet-setters can screw around and screw themselves up -- and still have lots of cash. But like poor blacks playing basketball instead of doing homework (to be an NBA star!), the true, real existence of a very, very few at the top, doesn't mean that's the best way. Doing homework and staying chaste might even seem counterintuitive -- but I believe it works better than the alternative at reducing poverty.

Personally, I also call for taxes on advertising -- which I consider spiritual pollution (I know it's not very Libber of me; I'm now lib-paternalist.)

Blogtheist (you can call me Tom), I disapprove of homosexuality more because I think Liberal Western Civilization becomes much weaker, in only a few generations, when immodest promiscuity becomes rampant. And many, if not most, gay men want lots of promiscuous sex. Since the Bible comes to same conclusion, my opinion of the Bible went up.

I don't hate gays, nor drug addicts. I want drug use, like gay sex, to be legal. But not encouraged, and not legal with children. And I oppose thought police nannies trying to force me to claim that all lifestyle choices are equal. I don't see proof of such a claim, so believe (don't need proof) otherwise.

"When I read the Bible, I see it’s about families," Hondsmerk says. "When Satan wants to destroy the church, he starts with families. The culture is asleep, and I’m expecting a collapse."

But, he adds, "People pray when they’re in need."

I think a collapse is a lot more possible than most pro-gay marriage folks are willing to address -- but I also think a fantastic, more tolerant, more responsible future is also more possible.

Dobson seems more oriented towards the good than those who oppose him.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 16, 2004 09:43 AM

dougf and al maviva:

both of you might be interested in this news report from the Onion.

Liberals return to welfare fraud, sodomy

BERKELEY, CA—No longer occupied by the 2004 election, liberals across the country have returned to the activities they enjoy most: anal sex and cheating the welfare system. "I've been so busy canvassing for the Democratic Party, I haven't had a single moment for suckling at the government's teat or no-holds-barred ass ramming," said Jason Carvelli, an unemployed pro-hemp activist. "Now, my friends and I can finally get back to warming our hands over burning American flags and turning kids gay." Carvelli added that his "number-one priority" is undermining the efforts of freedom-loving patriots everywhere.

Posted by: Markus rose at November 16, 2004 09:43 AM

Tom Grey --
one argument for gay marriage is that it will encourage monogamy in gay relationships. Certainly, it won't DISCOURAGE it.

Posted by: Markus Rose at November 16, 2004 09:54 AM

'Liberals return to welfare fraud, sodomy'--MR

That was FUNNY !!

Thanks.

Posted by: dougf at November 16, 2004 10:00 AM

Tom, Markus is right. Why not just discourage all promiscuity and encourage all fidelity?

The only argument against gay marriage that gets past go is that it will make otherwise heterosexual youngsters attending gay weddings think, "Gay, eh? Hmm, sounds interesting. The grooms look pretty slick up there. Kinda cool. Maybe I'll give it a go. Maybe I'll turn gay." A gradual increase in the percentage of gays could lead to a disastrous decline in the birth rate (disastrous, that is, if you like America continuing to have people in it).

But I just don't see the evidence that gay marriage will have such a "gaying" effect on heterosexual youngsters. The chance of it having such an effect is so low, and denying marriage on the basis of gayness is so much in conflict with the values we place on fidelity and family, that gay marriage should be allowed. Any thoughts on that?

Posted by: Jim at November 16, 2004 10:55 AM

Everyone here in favor of so-called "gay marriage" is in the extreme minority. Sorry, but that's the case. Many people in America are willing to permit some form of legal recognition of contractural benefits, so that hospital visits and stuff can be arranged, but there is no way that this country is going to accept "gay marriage." Anyone who thinks otherwise has to get some serious perspective (and I say that living in the Upper West Side, which might as well be Mars).

For a long time, the meme that so-called "gay marriage" and other leftist initiatives are "inevitible" has been entrenched in political discourse. It is the vestige of Marxist Theory of History, leading to some preordained conclusion. But it is bunk. And the recent actions on the part of citizens to block "gay marriage" have dealt a smashing blow to that view of history, and people are left befuddled.

The fact is, it is very possible for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, for abortion to be returned to the states and made illegal in some cases, for "gay marriage" to be blocked, and for some compromise on many of these issues while still moving the bar to the right.

I think that this country is going to see a resurgance of conservativism in many areas. The courts are really the only holdout. Like those old, tired judges holding on to lassiez-faire capitalism in the New Deal era, the leftist judges will eventually be swept away with time. Once that happens, the judiciary will again revert back to the center-right, where the majority of the country is right now. Don't forget, even in blue states, all of those marriage protection initiatives passed overwhelmingly.

I don't see a split happening in the Republican party for a long, long time. They are the majority party, and everyone here clamoring for gay marriage is a minority, even within the blue states. Deal with it.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at November 16, 2004 11:05 AM

Then there's that meme that the country/Bush/the Republican Party is "center-right" when Kerry won among both self-identified liberals and moderates. Party identification is split exactly evenly, at 37% each. The Republican majority in Congress is one of the smallest majorities in the last century. Gore won a few more votes in 2000, and Bush won a few more than that in 2004, while Democratic Senators won millions more votes than the Republican majority in Congress did.

I would say that the country is fairly (though obviously not exactly) split right down the middle.

Thanks, however, to the fact that young people support gay marriage by large majorities, and the older people who oppose it will eventually die, it does appear that the long-run trend is towards gay marriage. It's not "inevitable" in the sense that nothing is inevitable, though it does seem very likely eventually.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 11:24 AM

Blogthiest,

By large majorities? Sorry, but you're wrong:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/02/24/national/main601828.shtml

The money quote: "Young Americans under age 30 are more likely than older people to oppose the amendment, but a majority of them still favors it."

Like I said, deal with it.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at November 16, 2004 11:33 AM

Sydney,

The numbers to which I was referring come from this poll in The Economist. In case it requires registration, I will break it down.

The question asked was: Do you think marriages between homosexuals, with the same rights as traditional marriages, should or should not be legal?

Those aged 18 to 24 responded that they should be legal, 57% for and 40% against.

The poll sampled 2,012 adults and was taken in July.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 11:44 AM

Those numbers are actually pretty good, then. The way some people talk, you'd be surprised 40% of youth are against so-called "gay marriage." In fact, I'm sure some college officials would be surprised at that number too. In an age of sex-as-right and hedonism at college, those numbers aren't so bad.

When they grow up, they'll revert to norm.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at November 16, 2004 11:53 AM

Tom Grey - Liberty Dad,

The mild Jewish racism against marrying non-Jews, stronger almost everywhere outside America, is an underdiscussed aspect of hatred towards them.

Careful, your Jew-hatred is showing.
(1) Jews are not a race, nor are non-Jews.
(2) People can become Jewish (or non-Jewish, for most intents and purposes); it is impossible (except for Michael Jackson) to change your race.
(3) Extrapolating from Jews wanting to marry Jews to Jews "hating" non-Jews is quite a stretch. Certainly, my Protestant grandmother-in-law opposed my Protestant mother-in-law's marriage to my Catholic father-in-law. Doest that mean that she (or that Protestants) hate(s) Catholics? Or is it only Jews who are "racist"?

Jim,

But I just don't see the evidence that gay marriage will have such a "gaying" effect on heterosexual youngsters. The chance of it having such an effect is so low...

There really is a negligible chance of this effect. Odds are high that there is a genetic locus for homosexuality. In fruit flies, scientists found a gene that leads to homosexual behavior (initially called Fruity, renamed Fruitless for PC purposes). They took this gene and linked it to a temperature-sensitive promoter (the gene segment that leads to a gene being transcribed into a protein and thus activated); the fruit flies acted homosexually only above the temperature threshold (~30 C, IIRC) but not otherwise.

Besides that, even the most ardent homosexual-booster has to admit that there are tremendous pressures against being gay in society. Homosexuality could never be a choice - it is a result of genetics, IMO.

Posted by: Ariel at November 16, 2004 12:02 PM

Syndey,

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss a generation of people. The "norm", as you so condescendingly put it, changes over time, in case you hadn't noticed.

But yes, 40% is a significant percentage of young people. So significant, in fact, that I think President Bush should never again be allowed to speak of or act on any kind of mandate, since he only won by a few percent.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 12:14 PM

Ariel, Interesting, thanks.

Posted by: Jim at November 16, 2004 12:18 PM

Blogtheist,

So significant, in fact, that I think President Bush should never again be allowed to speak of or act on any kind of mandate, since he only won by a few percent.

So what exactly would constitute a mandate? Did Bill Clinton have a mandate in 92? In 96? Did George HW Bush have one in 88?

Posted by: Ariel at November 16, 2004 12:18 PM

Ariel,

It was meant sarcastically. The fact that 57% of young people support gay marriage was dismissed because so many - 40% - oppose it. So if a 17% margin is irrelevant, then what is to be made of Bush's margin of victory?

This was merely a jab at those who would like to have it both ways - big margins are irrelevant when it's convenient, and tiny margins are broad mandates when it is inconvenient.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 12:24 PM

Blogtheist, Oops, my sarcasm detector clearly failed...

Posted by: Ariel at November 16, 2004 12:35 PM

Wow, after reading some of this I realize how far I have come since the days of being raised in a family of prejudice and discrimination.

I grew up in a middle class white home where I never even saw my first black person until I started first grade. The rules of my family were you do not talk to them, play with them and you NEVER visit their home nor bring them to our home. I went through most of grade school before I began to realize how wrong my family was. In Jr. High and high school some of my best friends were black. But, they were secret friends that I could not admit to having. Now, at 52 I have many black friends that are welcome in my home any day, any time of any week. I also have a niece that grew up and married a wonderful black man that she has 3 children with. It took my Dad 10 years after they were married for him too even speak to her husband.

Homosexuals were a different matter. My folks would have died if we were to have any gay friends. God, that would have been worse than black friends I believe. I have a hard time shaking that long time prejudice of mine. I do have some gay friends but to be honest, I'm still not comfortable around them. I still don't believe in gay marriage but I strongly believe in "too each his own" and my feelings of that are stronger than my feelings of not believing they should be married. I guess I simply don't care what they do as long as what they do doesn't effect me.

Have I come as far as I can go in changing and turning around my prejudices? Probably. But, I also know I have raised my kids to accept everyone, regardless of race or sexual preference, as someone they may want to make friends with.

So, when you complain about how far we need to go with some of these issues. Try considering how far we have come with them.

Posted by: Cathy at November 16, 2004 12:38 PM

"I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss a generation of people."

I'm not dismissing a generation. I am, however, dismissing the so-called wisdom of youth.

" The "norm", as you so condescendingly put it, changes over time, in case you hadn't noticed."

Yes, it changes, but not as leftists would like. Or do you believe in the Marxist Theory of History as well? How often has it been proven wrong, and how many more lost elections and victories of gay marriage initiatives will it take?

You might want to hang your hopes on the youth vote. But ever since the 1960s the left has been claiming that the new politically active or sexually liberated youth will surely change things in the next election. Yawn. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at November 16, 2004 12:54 PM

By "victories of gay marriage initiatives," of course, I meant victories AGAINST gay marriage initiatives, and in favor of real marriage.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at November 16, 2004 12:55 PM

Cathy, I think you've hit upon the nut of the gay marriage debate when you say:

"I guess I simply don't care what they do as long as what they do doesn't effect me"

There it is. Does allowing gay marriage affect you? Those against would say yes; by expanding teh definition of marriage you cheapen it. Those for think that argument is fatuous. Yes, there are other arguments pro and con, but in then end(like most everything) it comes down to the following question:

"What does it mean for me?"

Posted by: Dave Ruddell at November 16, 2004 12:59 PM

If the Dems know what they're doing, they can exploit this schism between radical clerics like Dobson and the more libertarian crowd.

If the Dems settled on a hawkish approach to terrorism (but with a bit more intelligence than Bush), fiscal responsibility (balanced budget amendment?), and adopted a personal freedom campaign that included publicly throwing gun control out the window, the Republicans would be in deep doo-doo.

Fortunately for the Republicans, this is the Democrats we're talking about here.

Posted by: Geek, Esq. at November 16, 2004 01:16 PM

Thanks, however, to the fact that young people support gay marriage by large majorities, and the older people who oppose it will eventually die, it does appear that the long-run trend is towards gay marriage.

Blogtheist,

not likely. If that were the case, Liberals would own the future because the young tend to be more Liberal. But everybody knows that as they age they tend to swing over to the conservatives.

Same thing with young supporters of gay "marriage." Eventually, the young grow old and turn back to the faith and traditions of their forefathers, especially when they begin to raise families of their own.

Maybe that's the only thing that keeps the Left from total despair. You keep hoping for that future day when all the conservatives will die off; but sadly for you, that future never seems to arrive.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 01:44 PM

If he decides to stay in politics I hope he creates yet another “third” party to act as a nut magnet. The GOP could use the enema.

Pure genuis. I agree wholeheartedly.

MJT, you get too many comments. No way in hell I'd ever have time to read through all those.

I know, I know- "Then don't"

Posted by: 2Slick at November 16, 2004 01:48 PM

Conservatives aren't going to die off or be replaced but we do become more free and liberalized as time goes on and 'conservatives' of today certainly aren't as hard line as 'conservatives' of the 60's and 70's.

It may not happen in my lifetime, and we certainly aren't near as ready for it now as we thought we were, but eventually homosexuals will finally have the freedom of marriage.

Posted by: Epitome at November 16, 2004 02:05 PM

seems like many of the posters here have forgotten that, besides equal marriage rights taking hold all over the world (and right next door in canada), we have had actual, honest-to-goodness, completely equal (not "so-called")marriage rights in this country (mass.) for a year now ... and civil unions (semantic difference) in vermont for even longer.
as a result, we have seen no bloodthirsty hordes of homosexuals tearing at the fabric of society nor thunderbolts rained down from bearded old men in the sky... just some happy couples who now have some legal protections for their bond and the joy of having shared their union with friends and family. what the heck is all the shouting about ?

Posted by: elpolacko at November 16, 2004 02:27 PM

Markus - funny. Life imitates the Onion? Or the onion imitates life? Hard to say.

EP - Sure enough. You've had gay marriage for a year and marriage hasn't fallen apart.

Then again, most of the country has had no fault divorce for 30 years, and marriage isn't falling apart... though it is teetering.

And we've had overweening environmental regulation for 30 years, and businesses aren't crashing... though they sure are groaning under the burden,, if they care to comply with the law.

And we've had the war on drugs for 32 years too, and it hasn't destroyed the justices system... though it sure has created a crisis of confidence in it especially for the people most likely to get caught up in the war on drugs...

My point being that social institutions are important - they evolved into their current form because people chose to go that way. Rational choice, Hayek , spontaneous organization - ring any bells? Moreover, as Burke reminds us, men's natural behavior must be restraiined in some way, either by conscience or by a moderating institution, and social institutions (such as marriage or the Jaycees) serve that purpose; in the absence of moderating institutions, the government will be asked to step up to keep your neighbor off your back. It's the whole thing about how the laws of a free country are only suitable for governing a virtuous populace.

So in the end, it's not about whether gay marriage right now in Mass wipes out heterosexual marriage. It's about whether it chips away at the most important social institution we have.

I'll concede to civil unions; I think it's a decent compromise - but court-imposed gay marriage is a radical leap into the unknown, allowing a tiny elite to tamper with the most important societal building block in our possession. It seems spectacularly ill-advised to proceed that way, without a vote.

And as for that "march of history" thing - dude, that's a completely facile canard. That's like arguing that the inevitability of death means we ought to all just up and croack right now, because to do otherwise is to fight the march of history...

Posted by: Al Maviva at November 16, 2004 02:39 PM

Epitome: Conservatives aren't going to die off or be replaced but we do become more free and liberalized as time goes on and 'conservatives' of today certainly aren't as hard line as 'conservatives' of the 60's and 70's.

Yep. What's conservative today was liberal yesterday.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2004 02:43 PM

It may not happen in my lifetime, and we certainly aren't near as ready for it now as we thought we were, but eventually homosexuals will finally have the freedom of marriage.

Epitome,

that may well be the case. Any fight we win is only good for the here and now. I can only wish those that come after us the best of luck in this fight, and in any fight against the Left.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 02:45 PM

Not precisely true,but accurate(in the big sense of the word).Hey if CBS can do it,it must be OK.Right?
MSM delenda est !!! SOON !!!!

"NBC News reporter Kevin Site today declined to accept Al-Jazeera's Best News Video Award for 2004, insisting that there are many reporters who deserve the recognition, and that he just "happened to be in the right place at the right time."
Mr. Site chalked it up to "dumb luck" that he was able to record a U.S. Marine shooting a captured terrorist in the mosque which the terrorist had used as a battle station during his fight against American forces.
"I'm no hero," Mr. Site said. "The real heroes are the executives at NBC News who had the guts to show my video over and over, even after all the heat they took for refusing to show footage of terrorists beheading innocent American civilians. I think that speaks volumes about their character and professionalism."
An Al-Jazeera spokesman said Mr. Site and NBC have used their art to "advance the cause of freedom in a fashion reminiscent of Michael Moore

Posted by: dougf at November 16, 2004 03:00 PM

Al Maviva: It's about whether it chips away at the most important social institution we have.... court-imposed gay marriage is a radical leap into the unknown....

I'm with you there. I'm a conservative guy. But you have to give me some inkling as to how gay marriage might do this supposed chipping-away. Just saying that it's "unknown" that it won't chip away at marriage doesn't do it. Until there is some plausible case that gay marriage could have some harmful effect on marriage, family, or rates of reproduction and homosexuality, there is no reason to fear the long-term consequences of the change. The fear-of-the-unknown argument didn't hold water against women's sufferage or miscegenation. It doesn't hold water in this case, either.

I'll be frank. I fear the ominous gloom 50 years from now that you speak of. But I have no reason to fear. So, I ignore my fear.

Posted by: Jim at November 16, 2004 03:15 PM

But I have no reason to fear. So, I ignore my fear.

Because you don't fear doesn't mean you don't have reason to fear. Anyway, emotions are no way to go about making decisions of consequence (unless you're a Liberal).

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 03:34 PM

"Yep. What's conservative today was liberal yesterday."

Which was the more conservative era: 1950 or 1920?

Was the 1960s more conservative than the 1980s?

Pick and choose, but you can write a paper arguing for or against either. I've got my own answers, but it would be a reasonable debate in any event. Which is to say, sorry Michael, but there is no Theory of History.

Perhaps you should explore in a future blog post the psychological need on the part of liberals to be on what they feel is an inevitibly winning side. It'd be a fun topic, since it'd question the entire need for such things as protest marches (why protest if you'll win eventually), and the issue of whether the left really would still believe in their goals if they felt that they would be on the losing side.

Part of my swap at the youth vote was precisely to argue in the alternative: today's young liberals are tomorrow's conservatives. To many here, the very idea is preposterous. But that just shows your faith in the Theory of History, and not any real perspective in reality.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at November 16, 2004 03:38 PM

That's a good point Sydney. Your average Roman would consider us downright prudish in our disdain for orgies, concubines and multiple wives. We're practically Victorian!

If Epitome's historical inevitability were true, we'd all be running around naked right now and fucking each other on the streets. Isn't that the logical conclusion to historically inevitable sexual freedom?

I think it's safe to say (thank God), that there's a limit to how far we'll go and that chaos isn't our final destination if we don't want it to be.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 03:53 PM

From Seattle-based The Stranger, Vol 14 No. 9, Nov 11 - Nov 17, 2004 (www.thestranger.com):

DEAR OSAMA BIN LADEN

I'm sorry. You were right. We deserve to be blown up.

After last Tuesday, well... what can I say? You had us pegged dead-on the first time--although I was in denial and refused to believe it up until now. We as a nation obviously ARE a bunch of mindless sheep, grown fat with consumerism and easily led down the primrose path into corruption. After what happened November 2, there's just no denying it anymore. I'm ashamed that I was so blind for so long.

After 60 percent of eligible voters turned out and 51 percent of those voted for Bush, I can't do anything but concede your point: There are no innocents left in America. We've brought this on ourselves. Go ahead and do your worst. We've got it coming--in a big way. All I ask is this: Give New York a break, okay? And leave New England, California, and the rest of the West Coast out of it as well. We're on your side already! Please, stay focused and plan your next attack against the real enemy: those "red states" in the middle of the map. Fly a Cessna into the stands of a NASCAR rally. Put a suicide bomber on the Arch in St. Louis. Drive a truck-bomb into the Grand Ole Opry. Release anthrax at an Astros game. It's all good! They've got it coming. I'm just sorry it took me so long to figure out how very right you were. Can you ever forgive me?

--Anonymous

Posted by: The Stranger at November 16, 2004 03:59 PM

I am pointing out the truth of Jewish "racism". And it is exactly similar to Protestants or Catholics not wanting their children to marry one of "them". And there have been lots of wars between Christians of different persuasions over those persuasions, including the not-yet-totally-peaceful Northern Ireland issues.

Whenever one group excludes another group, the excluded group is likely to feel anger/ hatred at the group doing the excluding. This increases if the excluding group does business and makes money, or collects money, from the excluded group. Like landowning aristocrats against the peasants -- and the rich sons not allowed to marry the peasant girls (but knocking them up was winked at).

Sex and children literally personify a blend of any two cultures. And the point is that "marriage" is not for the love and fidelity of the two, but for the institution of a family for the 3 or more consisting of the couple and their offspring.

Given that civil unions are a reasonable alternative, which I support, I see no reason why gays need "marriage" instead.

On the lack of problems with gay marriage in Mass., you haven't addressed the issue of anti-gay Christian bigots who claim that the Christian Bible condemns homosexuals as sinful, and who have the personal opinion that such sinners are a cancer in society. (Ake Green, Sweden, convicted of hate speech). I see the purpose of gay marriage being a desire to censor the Bible -- explicitly anti-Christian, which I shorthand label anti-God. (and claim Michael fits into this category)

I see no reason the "burden of proof" should be on those against gay marriage. But I recognize that no 2 generation test of a social change can occur in less than 2 generations of time. Alcohol prohibition was a mistake more rapidly seen.

The rage against gay marriage is a projection of frustration at abortion. Abortion was legalized thru the Roe decision, which fundamentally changed the US Constitution. Like any other ammendment, but much, much, easier -- for 5 humans on the SC. The FMA is primarily a restriction on the power of judges to "find rights" for behavior now illegal.

What stops the SC from finding that prostitution or drug use is "privacy" protected, so laws against are unconstitutional? Nothing. Heck, I want both to be legalized, as I wanted sodomy legalized. But the Court really should be following culture, not trying to lead society.

Prohibition should be a reminder, too, that Constitutional changes can be made, and unmade. The time to unmake Roe is now, to return abortion to the states, where gay marriage proponents "say" they want gay marriage decisions made.

Jane's law makes me think that the Reps won't be quite so eager for states rights, as they feel more in control of that Federal power.

Posted by: Tom Grey at November 16, 2004 06:28 PM

Dobson is gearing himself up to play one of two roles in four years. He’ll be the right’s Michael Moore...[I]f the Bush Administration surrenders to his agenda he will disgust and alienate a solid two thirds of the country.

If the Bush Administration surrenders to his agenda? George Bush can't even give a straight answer to the question of whether homosexuality is a genetic predisposition. Stop playing the Good German, Michael; the agendas of Bush and Dobson are one and the same, and have been since 2000.

Posted by: Steve Smith at November 16, 2004 06:29 PM

Steve,

What has Bush done for Dobson in the past four years? Aside from agreeing with John Kerry about gay marriage, that is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2004 06:34 PM

"If Epitome's historical inevitability were true, we'd all be running around naked right now and fucking each other on the streets. Isn't that the logical conclusion to historically inevitable sexual freedom?"

Uh no, but it is quite revealing of what you feel the logical conclusion of what 'sexual freedom' would be. As far as I know, we have 'sexual freedom' right now and we haven't subverted into the portrait of unhinged naked loons running the streets and humping inanimate objects just yet.

To be fair, America, compared to certain countries in Europe, is considered 'prudish' yet all the countries the average American would associate with sexual degeneracy and lax sexual morals (France, Italy, Germany, the dutch), seem to keep spontaneous daytime orgies on the street to a minimum.

Posted by: Epitome at November 16, 2004 07:12 PM

Michael, if you are sincere about gay rights, do not pretend that support for civil unions is the same as opposition, nor that rhetorical opposition to gay marriage is the same as support for an amendment to the 14th amendment to ban it.

If you are on my side on this, really on my side, you don't just vote the right way on a referendum and write a few blog posts denouncing Dobson--you actively work on this, and you certainly don't whitewash Bush's atrocious record whenever a lefty makes you feel a little defensive for voting for him.

He's also named a number of federal judicial nominees, and made FDA appointments that believe the birth control pill is an abortofacient and prevented the morning after pill from being made available over the counter.

Posted by: Katherine at November 16, 2004 07:23 PM

Uh no, but it is quite revealing of what you feel the logical conclusion of what 'sexual freedom' would be.

Epitome,

quite right. That is indeed the logical conclusion to godless nihilism if only you people had the courage of your convictions. Thankfully, you dont. And you and western society can't thank your judeo-christian indoctrination for that. You still have a moral code even though you no longer even recognize where it comes from.

Posted by: David at November 16, 2004 07:30 PM

Hm. Godless nihilism. Is that like those German nihilists at the end of "The Big Lebowski"?

Seriously, though. Does sexual liberation have to be godless? Does support for letting two people in love publically and legally commit themselves to each other constitute nihilism?

But I have a feeling this is one of those issues that we're probably not going to agree on anytime soon.

But, and this is a fun but, I'd argue that morality is in fact utterly divorced from religion (at least in Western society). God's word used to involve sending the Israelites to conquer a city and slaughter or enslave its inhabitants, sending she-bears to tear two and forty children, ordering fathers to impregnate their daughters, and so forth.

If a general in Iraq were to capture a city and ritually murder its citizens, we would probably be aghast - even if he said that God ordered him to do so, even though there is ample evidence in the Bible for similar orders from God that were dutifuly carried out. Has God's word changed? Has God's morality changed?

Or, more likely, has human morality changed, and have our understanding and assumptions about God changed along with them?

I tend to believe the latter is the case.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 16, 2004 07:58 PM

"quite right. That is indeed the logical conclusion to godless nihilism if only you people had the courage of your convictions.

Thankfully, you dont. And you and western society can't thank your judeo-christian indoctrination for that. You still have a moral code even though you no longer even recognize where it comes from."

So what you're saying is that my judeo christian value system acts as a proper social-moral safety net, protecting me from the perils of 'godless nihlism.' And to divorce myself from it, would eventually lead to me running around naked and fornicate with goats? Interesting, among other things.

Just for reference. Does your church have any hypothesis as to why cultures of non abrahamic religions haven't fallen into the trap of eternal nakedness, constant orgy and mass murder that would seem to accompany such 'godless nihlism'?

Posted by: Epitome at November 16, 2004 09:01 PM

Tom Grey,

I am pointing out the truth of Jewish "racism". And it is exactly similar to Protestants or Catholics not wanting their children to marry one of "them".

Fascinating. So, are Protestants of this sort "racist"? And if Protestants or Catholics of this sort are "racist", why did you not choose one of those religions? Again, methinks your Jew-hatred is showing.

That said, given that you seem to be a person who believes in some religion, how exactly do you suppose a religion can retain adherents if:
(1) they can intermarry as much as they want
(2) they are a minority
(3) they do not set up social barriers to intermarriage
(4) they suffer discrimination at the hands of bigots, thus providing discouragement to retain their religion

If they violate (1) or (3), they are "racist" by your definiition. (2) is the situation for most religious groups that might be deemed "racist", since this is generally only applied to minority cultures. (4) ties in with (2).

Honestly, I don't think that it's possible; perhaps each country should only have one religion (like in olden days) so that we don't suffer from being "racist" according to your definition?

Posted by: Ariel at November 16, 2004 09:29 PM

Ariel -- I am a product of and a strong advocate for Jewish/non-Jewish intermarriage. If for no other reason than that it broadens the Jewish gene pool, which is healthy thing, since Jews suffer a high rate of diseases like Tay-Sachs that are caused by corrupted gene pools. However, this does raise the legitimate question of how to Jews can preserve themselves as a distinct religion and cultural group. Expanding the idea of who is a Jew is one possibility. For instance, making it easier for non-Jews to convert, and recognizing those whose father is Jewish and mother is non-Jewish as Jews.

It is understandable when a minority group responds to discrimination by becoming more insular and exclusive, however, such a response also does tend to encourage more hostility from the majority.

Posted by: Markus Rose at November 17, 2004 07:05 AM

Epitome: Does your church have any hypothesis as to why cultures of non abrahamic religions haven't fallen into the trap of eternal nakedness, constant orgy and mass murder....

Shh! Don't tell David about Ancient Greek morals, which gave us most of our important values (as VDH says), or about ancient Confucianism, which Leibniz said was more advanced than Western morals. Leibniz was an expert in Confucianism, as am I. I don't think he was right; Aristotle tops Mencius. But he wasn't wildly incorrect.

David: Because you don't fear doesn't mean you don't have reason to fear.

My point is that no one has given any reason to fear gay marriage. You give me a reason, and I'll be against it. I am a staunch conservative. Give me a reason gay marriage will harm society.

Posted by: Jim at November 17, 2004 07:25 AM

Jim,

VDH doesn't say that the greeks gave us moral values. He says thst they gave us our sense of citizenship and rugged individualism. Those "values," if any, are amoral, and as VDH says, actually make Americans the most dangerous people on the planet precisely because we're so efficient at killing.

It takes a religion like Christianity to temper that. If we were REALLY fighting like Alexander the Great, for example, we'd not think twice about killing innocents if they stood in our way.

And for the record, when those Greek values were adopted by Rome, it did not change their customs of feeding people to the lions, engaging in mass orgies, or other stuff. Rome was a pretty wicked place until Christianity dominated Europe.

And in places in the world today where Christianity is not dominant, the lands remain bloody.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at November 17, 2004 07:31 AM

Sydney,

If Christianity has had a moderating effect on the vast majority of people, I have yet to see it. The history of Western civilization after the advent of Christianity, and even after Constantine made it the religion of the Roman Empire, has been just as bloody, violent, and full of debauchery as it was prior.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 17, 2004 07:35 AM

Sidney, go and read the book. VDH lists many values we derived from the Greeks. Also, arguably Nicomachean Ethics is the most important description of moral character we have.

And in places in the world today where the tradition of values given us by the Greeks is not dominant, the lands remain bloody.

Posted by: Jim at November 17, 2004 07:52 AM

Jim,

I've read Carnage & Culture. But I haven't read the one you posted. I don't know if VDH was writing of moral values or some other kind of values. But as I understand things, the Greeks had no concept of "just war."

Blogthiest,

Christianity is not pacifism, but it does impose moral conditions on violence that quite frankly did not exist in the world before its arrival. Even if people themselves do not live up to its standards, it DOES have standards. However, I notice that, like a good liberal, all you can see in the history of Western Civilization is our sin, and never our better qualities. Why don't you move to Iran or China then and see how far you get?

Posted by: Sydney Carton at November 17, 2004 08:25 AM

>>>"Just for reference. Does your church have any hypothesis as to why cultures of non abrahamic religions haven't fallen into the trap of eternal nakedness, constant orgy and mass murder that would seem to accompany such 'godless nihlism'??

Epitome,

My church doesn't, but I do. All societies have a moral code derived from a higher power, except of course you nihilists drones. You think you thought this stuff up, and you think it means squat when unlinked from a higher power. Of course, most of your existentialist and nihilist philosophers of France fame, people far more intelligent than the drones, new better.

Posted by: David at November 17, 2004 08:55 AM

Sydney,

I am not sure how you construed blindness to all else from a condemnation of sin. Certainly, the fact alone that we are able to converse using this marvelous technology is a testament to the triumph of our abilities and aspirations over our darker impulses.

That said. Alongside great triumphs in Western civilization have come unspeakeable, horrific suffering meted out by people against people. To argue that religion has somehow had a mitigating factor on human behavior makes me wonder how human history could have been worse. The history of Europe, unfortunately for the Europeans, is replete with savagery, brutality, corruption, sin, and more wars than I could possibly remember. The history of the ancient Jews is full of wars of conquest and genocide. Islam was a conquering religion.

And, of course, religion has gone along for the ride: wars of reformation, crusades, witch burnings, inquisitions - religion has not mitigated violence. It has granted many people novel excuses for committing the same transgressions against each other.

Is this a condemnation of religion? Of course not, anymore than it is a condemnation of reason, logic, discourse, technology, or a myriad of other things. All of these things are value neutral. The only thing that gives them value is what people do with them. They are tools - a hammer can build a house or smash a skull. When religion inspires people to love one another and do good works, it has positive value. When it inspires them to kill infidels and torture heretics, it is bad. Technology can be used to cure disease and explore our world, or it can build better bombs and better torture chambers.

The moral conditions "imposed" by Christianity, which didn't seem to have much impact on Christian civilization, certainly existed among the teachings of the Vedas, in Hinduism, and those of the Buddha. Many Greek philosphers also spoke in similar tones - early Christian thinkers decided that many of them, despite being pagans, ended up in Heaven, or at least Purgatory, because they had come across the teachings of Christ before Christ taught them. Sadly, these earlier, related teachings had as little mitigating impact on the violence in their societies as Christianity had in ours. One need only look at Hindus and Buddhists fighting one another in Sri Lanka to see the horrific irony.

And David, though I am not an existentialist, an important contribution of Jean Paul Sartre was this: in an existentialist world, man has no one to turn to but himself, and is utterly and totally responsible for his own decisions. No one or thing else - just him. Certainly, personal responsibility is a conservative value?

But of course, the idea of morality derived from religion runs into the old problem: is something good because God says it is good, or is it good regardless of what God says? In the first case, God can just as easily say that murdering babies is good. In the second, it implies limits on God's omnipotence. As far as I know, no one has worked out that particular problem - have you?

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 17, 2004 09:48 AM

No one or thing else - just him. Certainly, personal responsibility is a conservative value.

Personal responsibility is considered a "conservative" value if you like. And so is reliance on a higher power, for all sorts of things, like meaning and value and purpose, etc. Interesting duality, no?

Posted by: David at November 17, 2004 10:38 AM

It is an interesting duality. Does that mean that atheists can't be conservatives?

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 17, 2004 10:41 AM

They most certainly can be conservatives. Ours is a big tent.

Posted by: David at November 17, 2004 10:56 AM

Even godless, nihilistic drones?

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 17, 2004 11:05 AM

Ours is a big tent.

Hallelujah, and amen. In fact, I am grateful to theistic conservatives for tolerating, and even valuing, my presense in the tent. It's not necessarily easy for them, as they believe that God is absolutely central to any decent system of value. As an atheist, I'm sure I seem to be a car without an engine block to them.

Posted by: Jim at November 17, 2004 11:10 AM

Blog,

yes, even godless nihilistic drones. We have plenty of them. In fact, I think there's more freedom to be an atheist under the conservative tent than there is to be a christian under the Liberal tent. We're more tolerant.

Posted by: David at November 17, 2004 11:21 AM

Well, David, we certainly disagree about a great many things, and I do believe we have sufficiently cheapened the discource on Mr. Totten's website. I think we have beaten this particular topic to death, but I do look forward to doing this again on another.

Come, nihilists! Onward!

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 17, 2004 11:32 AM

Sigh. "Discourse". Please don't hold it against me.

Posted by: Blogtheist at November 17, 2004 11:32 AM

I think the reason that Dobson is crazy (and Randall too for that matter) is not that he believes certain things. The idea of gay marriage is morally wrong is not that crazy, as the polls show. He's just not very nice about it. If Randall has convictions that a fetus is a person (as many of us do) than it only makes sense that abortion is on par with murder. He just had a really fucked up way of saying it. The diplomacy of these men is weak, but their personal convictions are just as valid as the convictions of as someone who doesn't believe in God at all. And let's not pretend like there aren't atheists who want to legislate their beliefs as well. I am a liberally minded person but I struggle everyday with the personal conviction that a fetus seems to be a person. I didn't blindly accept this conclusion, it's just something I can't deny and you have to consider that the convictions of these men share the same irresistable nature.

Posted by: John Totten at November 17, 2004 01:07 PM

Dobson's following (and Falwell's and Robertson's and D. James Kennedy's, et al) is vastly overestimated. There are many who agree with them on some issues who never listen to them. To say that they are "followers" of them is to give Dobson and his ilk too much credit.

Saying that every evangelical Christian that voted for Bush is a follower of Dobson is like saying that every leftie supporter of Kerry was a follower of Michael Moore.

Both of those are "nice" stereotypes, but that's about it.

Posted by: David R. Block at November 17, 2004 01:38 PM

Dobson as a republican power broker is utter nonsense.

Crowley is simply building a strawman for the democrats.

Posted by: BobT at November 18, 2004 04:27 PM

"My point is that no one has given any reason to fear gay marriage. You give me a reason, and I'll be against it. I am a staunch conservative. Give me a reason gay marriage will harm society."

This is the crux of the conflict. There are a good many anti-gay bigots (perhaps balanced out by an equal number of anti-Christian bigots), but not enough to account for the defeat of gay marriage at the polls.

The problem is that the concern about gay marriage is something a lot of people feel in their gut, non-bigoted people who know what bigotry feels like because they resist that and know that this concern is different, but they have trouble putting their finger on what the specific problem is.

A couple possibilities:

1. The doctrine of genetic determinism (the "is it a choice?" question) leaves too little room for free will. Urges do not equal action and certainly do not equal identity. I'm not a polygamite just because I'm sexually attracted to numerous women, for instance.

2. Given the European example, there is concern about population sustenance. Had Mr. Incredible married FroZone, we'd have no Dash, Violet, or Jack-Jack. Life comes before liberty, and they both trump the pursuit of happiness.

3. Homosexuality was once an accepted part of the moral code (as Oliver Stone will tell you vis-a-vis Al the Great) where it went hand in hand with polygamy and the domination of the strong by the weak. One man, one woman marriage was a progressive innovation along the lines of one man, one vote, with similar egalitarian results. Thus homosexuality feels like social regression, not progress.

These are just guesses. As a libertarian, I lean toward gay marriage, but I too must admit to reservations.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at November 18, 2004 06:40 PM

Er, that should be weak by strong. Also shows up in the animal kingdom, though animal lesbianism is another kettle of fish entirely.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at November 18, 2004 06:42 PM

Hi, Ged,

I, for one, recognize that much of the opposition to gay marriage is non-bigoted but rather based on sincerely held moral grounds. I think too few advocates of gay marriage recognize it, and this poisons debate. Tampering with marriage and family is serious business. One of my best friends is gay and couldn't vote for Bush because of this issue. He's beside himself with indignance over it. I tell him it isn't all bigotry. He won't listen.

As for genetic determinism, it's not there, but genes do give strong dispositions. It's hard to imagine that our society's values could run against the wired-in, strong heterosexual dispostions that 97% of us have and turn any appreciable number of us genetic heterosexuals gay merely because of gay marriage's becoming part of the fabric of social life. That would be an enormous upheaval going right against the genetic tide. I just don't see the piquancy of gay weddings having that kind of power to persuade. Only if homosexuality weren't a genetic predisposition at all would I worry.

As for the polygamy example, I think both urges are wired into men: to have many casual sexual affairs with women, and to have a few marriages of fidelity (so that the kids of most promising stock may be raised with utmost care). These are morally incoherent urges; fidelity does not cohere with infidelity. We solved the problem by siding one way and not the other. It is not that we went against the entire genetic tide; we picked one of its two directions. Moreover, the analogy to homosexuality is not tight, because while admittedly men have the urge to infidelity wired in, they don't have the urge to homosexuality wired in.

I don't want our culture to die out by lack of reproduction, and I place great value on children being raised only in their genetic parents' family. Gay marriage isn't a threat to either of these goals or to any other. So, I embrace it.

Posted by: Jim at November 18, 2004 08:52 PM

There are more fools in the world than there are people. Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)

Posted by: national city mortgage at November 21, 2004 02:16 PM

Strength to Love, 1963 Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. Nick Diamos

Posted by: federal home loan mortgage corp at November 22, 2004 03:56 PM

James Dobson's ministry, Focus on the Family, wields enormous power in evangelical Christian circles. His monthly newsletter alone reaches several million, not to mention magazines and radio programs. However, the Buchanan comparison falls short. Buchanan ran for President; Dobson never has, and probably never will.

The widespread loyalty to Dobson comes from the folksy way he has provided practical parenting advice over the past 25 years or more. As a father of two, I've used his insights, and they work. He's written books that have sold millions, beginning in the late 60s with the now classic "Dare to Discipline." His constituency is not stereotypical "Red State" in that many of his supporters are college educated, coming from the cream of evangelicalism's universities. His is a thinking audience.

Dobson's early political forays were always on issues important to the family. This is not just abortion and the homosexual agenda, but includes lesser publicized issues, like his support to repeal the so-called "marriage penalty" tax and his service in the 1980s on President Reagan's Task Force on pornography.

More recently, he seems to have strayed into marginal issues, such as the evolution debate and the odd 10 Commandments monument confrontation precipitated by Alabama Judge Roy Moore. Donations to Focus on the Family have arguably suffered as a result. Is this why two to three years ago Dobson was given a largely honorary title, and day-to-day operations at Focus were turned over to another?

In the summer of 2003, my family visited the Focus headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It's a very impressive campus. Its many ministries continue to provide positive support to countless families, and its pursuit of excellence is legendary among charitable organizations. Focus has taken steps recently to fire-wall itself from its admirable but increasingly erratic and aging founder.
With the 2004 election behind us, I suspect that Dobson's influence, both in family and political matters, has reached its zenith and begun what will prove to be a gradual decline.

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Dobson is a disgusting demagogue. He's a modern-day George Wallace. He's the Jesse Jackson of the Right.

As a cosmopolitan neocon/right-libertarian, I naturally have little in common with the Religious Right. I was raised in a very religious community and am a person of faith myself, and I defend to the death a person's right to profess their faith. What I do not defend, though, is the attempt by Dobson and others to use the state to legislate their beliefs on everyone else.

I always sort of liked Robertson. His group was issue-based and he was more concerned with religious liberty and the sanctity of life than anything, a goal I can respect. Falwell is nutty, but he seems harmless. Dobson is both smart and ill-intentioned, a dangerous demagogue bent on turning America into a Christian Theocracy at home and a medieval Crusader abroad. He must not be allowed to succeed. He's a force that truly frightens me. Jackson and Sharpton may be wackos, but they have no real political power because the Democratic Left is finished. But Dobson and his ilk have a lot of IOUs in the GOP. And that is truly scary.

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