November 28, 2006

Why not engage with me instead of trying to make me into your enemy?

Despite yesterday's forbearance, I feel I have to respond to this post of Andrew Sullivan's. I didn't say I'd resist forever. I just said I was sensitive about too much in a row of the intrablogospherical squabblage. But now that I've hit a couple other subjects and have a bit of time this morning to stir up a reasonably bloggy mix, I'm going to respond.

Here's his post, in its entirety, under the heading "Quote for the Day":
"What seems to be guiding Althouse and Reynolds' hatred of the term "Christianist" is that it highlights a fact which they both are eager to ignore - namely, that the political party to which they are so devoted is dominated by individuals who believe that their religious/Christian beliefs ought to dictate the American political process, shape secular law, and exploit coercive state power to constrain the choices of their fellow citizens," - Glenn Greenwald, responding to increasingly hysterical attacks on yours truly by some Republican bloggers.
Is this decent, Andrew? Greenwald, an extremely partisan blogger, known for swinging wildly, produced a post that was obviously designed to vilify me. Did you bother to check whether any of his assertions are fair or true, or do you think it's acceptable to just reprint something and let it work its damage because you're irked at me for raising some questions about your hostility to religious people? I see that you seem to be trying to make amends to the religious people you offended by printing some long emails from Mormons, so I have the feeling that my criticism had some effect. So why just reprint a hostile quote?

First, I'm not only not "so devoted to" the Republican Party, I'm not a Republican at all. The main reason I'm not a Republican is that I object to the social conservatism aspect of the party. I'm not a Democrat either, because of the Democratic Party's weakness on national security. I'm on record, time and again on this blog, as disliking both parties. In short, the entire premise of Greenwald's quote -- my supposed party affiliation -- is a lie.

Second, I don't have a "hatred" of your word "Christianist." As I said in the very post of mine that criticized you and that linked to Greenwald's abusive material:
I don't object to the word "Christianists" if it is used fairly to refer to something that is the equivalent of "Islamists." I use the word "religionists" myself. See here, here, here, and here. Words like this mean something and have a place. The key is to use them in the right place. I criticize Sullivan when he shows a hostility toward ordinary religious people who aren't trying to bully their way around the political world. There are distinctions to be made here.
Instead of letting Greenwald be your mouthpiece, why not engage with the issue I raised about your use of the word? I share your opposition about the social conservative political agenda, and I'm a strong supporter of the separation of church and state. Why not engage with me instead of trying to make me into your enemy? I have supported gay marriage in numerous posts on this blog for almost three years, and I am a law professor who teaches a course in Religion and the Constitution. Why don't you see me as a valuable ally or, at the least, a person to avoid reprinting lies about?

UPDATE: Sullivan responds to this post without linking to it. Great. I guess you want to make it hard for your readers to see what I actually said. He prefers to link to the Instapundit post that links to this. What's that all about? How many times is he going to print my name over there and talk about me without linking to me? It's really unfair! It flaunts unfairness! Here's what he writes -- note how it just merges me with Glenn Reynolds, knocks me, then proceeds to talk about things Reynolds wrote. Here's the part that is about me:
Today, the Althouse-Reynolds Axis begs for me to engage them on the issues, rather than making them my "enemy." I'm befuddled. I linked to a quote by Glenn Greenwald, which was very long and included many links to Althouse and Reynolds and others over the question of whether "Christianist" is an appropriate term to use to describe the fusion of political ideology and religious faith. Greenwald shows that Reynolds and Althouse simply refuse to allow me to deploy a word in a manner that makes sense to me. Althouse writes:
I criticize Sullivan when he shows a hostility toward ordinary religious people who aren't trying to bully their way around the political world. There are distinctions to be made here.
Indeed there are. That's why I call "ordinary religious people" Christians and call those who are "trying to bully their way around the political world" Christianists. Is that so hard for her to understand? I've stated it quite clearly from the beginning, but she refuses to take me at my word.
And you, Andrew Sullivan, refuse to engage with the serious argument I am making here. If you linked to the posts you talk about and cut way down, your readers would have a fair chance to see what I am saying. I have obviously agreed with your basic definition but called you on your overuse of it and the air of hostility toward religious people you're giving off. Why don't you deal with my argument fairly, including links to me, and why don't you treat me as an individual instead of lamely and inaccurately merging me with Glenn Reynolds? Glenn and I have taken different positions on this, and I'm the main blogger writing about the subject, so why are you linking to him linking to me? I would suggest it's sexism -- it certainly gives off a whiff of sexism -- but I think the real reason is that Reynolds's position is easier for you to oppose by trotting out your usual points.

215 comments:

1 – 200 of 215   Newer›   Newest»
The Tensor said...

i'm in ur face misrepresenting ur vy00z

Paco Wové said...

You realize this is fruitless, right? Appealing to Sullivan's presumptive better side won't work, he's having too much fun in his echo chamber a deux to hear you.

George said...

Keep up the good fight, Professor.

You're on the side of the angels.

Snippet said...

I have reservations about gay marriage, but am willing to let the people, through their democratically elected and publically accountable (sort of) representatives make this decision.

I think it is fair to say that the population at large is not eager to redefine marriage at this time.

It is interesting how UNinterested Andrew Sullivan is in the will of the people when it differs from his own, and how eager he is to shove his homosexualist* agenda down our throats.

*This word, of course, does not imply that there is anything wrong with homosexuality, any more than the word, "Christianist" implies that there is anything wrong with non-invasive Christianity.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pogo said...

Why not?

Because Mr. Sullivan is not man enough, not Catholic enough, and not tolerant enough to do the right thing.

nypundit said...

Ann, how can you demand responsibility from Sullivan? He has sleep apnea!

Michael said...

And so this is how fascism comes, to Bush and Rumsfeld's America. the beagle weeps.

reoconnot said...

1.The state recognizes marriage because marriages produce children.
2 Producing children is essential to the very existence of the state.
3. Producing children creates dependencies and requires economic and personal sacrifices.
4. Intelligent divorce laws ensure that said sacrifices and dependencies are addressed when the marriage fails. This encourages couples to make the sacrifices which are necessary for the continuation of the state.
5. The state recognizes and celebrates marriage because marriage is essential to the survival of the state.
6. Homsexuals are free to engage in whatever living arrangements and contracts they please.
7. However personally fulfilling these arrangements may be, they are purely personal and are of no concern to the state.
8. Sexuality is God given-even if there is no God. Sexuality is not a matter of choice. This fact should inform our approach to the question of homosexual unions. It does not require that we abandon our ability to reason.
9. Treating homosexual unions as the equivalent of unions which are the lifeblood of the state is intellectually confused or dishonest. Such thinking demonstates a failure to appreciate the essential role in the continuation of the state of marriages which produce children. Such failure diminishes the status of marriage.

10. The attempt of homosexuals to force society to accept their unions as the equivalent of unions which are the lifeblood of the state overreaches and should be rejected.

11. It is pure demagoguery to use terms like Christianist to refer to people who are -with good reason-traditionalist.

Michael said...

Here's an idea-- stop referring to Andrew Sullivan as "Andrew," "Sullivan," etc. Any reference to him should use the full form "The Papist Andrew Sullivan."

Decoder said...

Because their objective is hate-based and yours isn't.

Since you have different objectives, what's the basis for an alliance? Are you going to hate the people they want you to hate if you become allies? No.

Gentleman Farmer said...

Hasn't anyone yet posted:

Greenwald is an important and serious person. Greenwald only has a New York Times Best Selling Book on the Bush Administration and its abuses of power. And he has one of the most-read blogs on the Internet, after 9 months of blogging. And Senators read from his blog at Senate hearings and his posts lead to front-page news stories in major newspapers.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

MrsWhatsit said...

Reoconnot, please respond to two statements of fact absent from your list:

1. Many traditional heterosexual marriages do not produce children, and the State treats these marriages no differently from those that do.

2. Many homosexual unions do produce children, and the State treats these unions no differently from those that do not.

Don't these facts poke a gaping hole in your reasoning, and if not, why not?

Kevin P. said...

I stopped reading Andrew Sullivan a long time ago. Between his God complex and bipolar disorder, he stopped making sense.

He reverted to his archetype, the know-it-all, superior-to-all Brit. No offense to the many other Brits who have common sense.

Art V said...

reoconnot - interesting stuff.

It does raise some fascinating questions:

1) Since marriage is the legal expression of a contract to collaborate over the production of new human stock, at what point does the state step in and nullify a marriage between breeding partners when offspring is not forthcoming?

2) Is the state sentimental in that it will allow marriage to continue when breeding possibilities are thwarted by sterility of both of the partners? Despite the ultimate pointlessness of the marriage, a bond may have formed between the (non)breeding partners, which might result in angst if the marriage were annulled

3) In the case where only one of the breeding pair is fertile, will the state enforce a splitting of the failed breeding pair in order to potentially facilitate a more fruitful usage of the working breeding capacity of the non-sterile partner?

Anyway, thank you for an interesting and novel defence of traditional marriage.

Andrew said...

Reconnect:

Your reasoning is impeccable, but, in such a pure form, it is sometimes unavailable to others for understanding.

Here is a leading question that I have often used to begin an informed conversation (Ann, I wouldn't mind your view on this)--

Suppose an adoption agency was placing a young and had a choice of two families-- A man & woman, and a homosexual couple, either two men or two women. Should the adoption agency have the right to say that, all else being equal, children do better with a mother and a father figure, than with two mother figures or two father figures? And what happens when decision making processes such as the one described are ruled as 'discrimination'?

Andrew said...

Apologies for the weird syntax of the above comment, I'm using a strange keyboard. The word 'child' is missing from after 'young'.

Derve said...

lol. With "supporters" like Althouse... (hint: You're not helping as much as you think. :)

Sullivan hit it on the head.

Others identify you as a Republican, yet bright enough to be embarrassed at their social issues and recent campaign strategies based on these issues.

Eventually,
both you and the Instapundit will wise up to the damage the Republicans have done to America's foreign policies. The country doesn't need "help" like that on national security issues. Cleanup duty already awaits from all this "help".

You and Reynolds have overlooked and downplayed the past years of internal ugliness and divisiveness based on religious social issues. Because of your concern for national security and foreign policy. When you're able to admit the latter has been a failure under this administration, you might see why people question your loyalty.

Your blogging future is not in politics or internal domestic policies. It's in "art" and entertainment, a good row every weekend.

Slim999 said...

"1) Since marriage is the legal expression of a contract to collaborate over the production of new human stock, at what point does the state step in and nullify a marriage between breeding partners when offspring is not forthcoming?"

The answer is every April 14, when the state rewards parents (the more children, the higher the reward), and docks married folks who don't have children.

Gahrie said...

OK..in case no one has yet mentioned this to you guys, referring to normal people as "breeders" and talking about "breeding partners" is not doing your side of the debate any favors. It just shows your hostility to larger society and western civilization, and offends people who might otherwise be receptive to your arguements.

Der Hahn said...

2. Many homosexual unions do produce children...

What sort of biology book are you using to assert that a male/male couple can produce a child in the same way a male/female couple can?

Yes, I do know that male/female couples make various arrangements to assist with the production of a child but there is no prima facia reason to assume that such a couple can not.

Anonymous said...

Greenwald and Sullivan are just anti-Christian bigots. Sullivan has become unhinged by his single issue advocacy of gay marriage. Ann, you are above them, please refrain from giving Sullivan any more publicity.

Ann Althouse said...

"please refrain from giving Sullivan any more publicity"

He has huge traffic and blogs on the Time.com website. And then he posts about me. I felt I needed to respond.

Chairman eDog said...

Appealing to Sullivan's presumptive better side won't work, he's having too much fun in his echo chamber a deux to hear you.

The gay couple I bought my house from installed a two person shower as well. It's very nice.

MrsWhatsit said...

Did I assert that male/male couples produce children "in the same way that a male/female couple can"? I can't seem to find that claim anywhere in the text of my comment. Even if you assumed that "homosexual" refers only to male couples, which I do not believe that it does, I still said nothing about producing children "in the same way" as male/female couples. Male/female couples "produce" children to raise in many ways. I don't see how the specific mechanics of unassisted or assisted reproduction or adoption or whatever are relevant to reoconnot's argument. Perhaps reoconnot will explain that for us, though.

As for the rest of your comment, I can't respond because I can't tell what you mean.

B. P. Beckley said...

If anyone has a legitimate concern about the increase in political power of evangelical/conservative Christians, it's gay men. That certainly goes a long way toward explaining Sullivan's attitude toward "Christianists".

Mr. Snitch said...

"You realize this is fruitless, right?"

Indeed. Sullivan's far less interested in ideology than in keeping his numbers up, and attacking the top-drawing blogger (Reynolds -and you, his proxy) accomplishes that. On that basis, I've advised Glenn that the best revenge is to ignore him. I offer you the same advice. I'm sure it's difficult to do, when being attacked in a high-profile way, but you must keep in mind that what Sullivan wants above all is attention. Deny him that and you hurt him where he is most vulnerable. He desperately needs to be important. That's why he was Glenn's good buddy when that served a purpose, and now attacks him and his friends when it does not. Sullivan lacks the wit of a Lilek or O'Rourke, he has none of Reynolds' charming graciousness. He can't define and defend his beliefs (whatever they are) decisively and persuasively as could, say, a William Buckley.

Attacking you is all he can do to draw the crowds he needs to please his new masters at Time. Deny him those numbers and you may cost him his cushy job. Then watch him come crawling back to join the inner circle. Now, THAT's revenge.

Art V said...

gahrie: "referring to normal people as "breeders" and talking about "breeding partners" is not doing your side of the debate any favors."

Can you clarify which side you're talking about?
The anti-gay-marriage guy 'reoconnot' argued that marriage was a special institution built around the neccessity of getting people to breed, so I'm presuming you're castigating the anti-gay-marriage side of the argument.

Or there's the possibility you just dont really understand the concept of satire, and took my satirical riposte seriously...

pablo H said...

Why not hash this all out on Bloggingheads?

Andrew vs. Althouse.

Might be better than Bob and Kaus.

Gahrie said...

Art V:

1) the only people I have seen refer to heterosexuals as "breeders" have been either militant homosexuals, or militant gay marriage proponents.

2) If your previous post was supposed to be satire, it is not clearly so, and in my opinion, poorly done.

3) Marriage is designed to produce, raise and nuture children.

4) Animals "breed", human "reproduce" To refer to heterosexuals as "breeders" is to purposefully de-humanize them.

Sloanasaurus said...

I have been reading this board for three years and Althouse has been pretty consistent on her support for gay marriage and her opposition to pretty much all of the social conservative agenda.

I think this "row" reveals that Sullivan is in fact a one issue person. His interest in gay rights trumps all others including national security and economic conservativism which made Sullivan the "moderate" that he is or was.

One-issue people should be relegated to the sidelines as they are useless and only stir up trouble in the on-going experiement of our democracy.

Regarding social conservativism, I believe that the debate will widen for the 2008 elections. It won't be just about gay marriage anymore or abortion, it will widen into general family issues such as 40% children being born to unwed mothers, and the education gap being attributed to single parent households and how that will affect all of us and how this added instability at the family level multiplied by millions will affect the overall stability of American life. It would be interesting to hear how social liberals who do not have the burdens of party partisanship such as Althouse and Reynolds feel about these issues.

trogdor said...

Bravo in regard to your first point, Prof. Althouse: Sullivan is way off-base in calling you a "Republican blogger," and your criticisms of him are hardly "hysterical." He would also do much better to defend his arguments himself, rather than leave it to Greenwald.

BUT I'm still confused about your stance in regard to "Christianist," primarily because you approvingly quoted Glenn Reynolds when he bashed the term. Reynolds' point only makes sense if "Islamism" is a synonym for "Islamic terrorism"... which it isn't. And a quick search of your blog shows that you understand the correct definition of "Islamist." So why the kudos to Instapundit?

SMGalbraith said...

How has this increase in political power among Christian evangelicals actually manifested itself?

I'll certainly agree that their agenda (broadly speaking) if enacted would be a great danger to the type of liberal, pluralistic democracy we have and wish to maintain. But that can be said about any absolutist movement, whether they get their "truth" from theological or secular sources. The desire to impose the "right way of living" doesn't just emanate from religious types.

But, again, we've had these "Christianists" with their figure-head "Christianist" president running the country for 6 years. What liberty or freedom has been taken away by them that we had prior to 2001?

Mr. Sullivan says we live in a "theocracy". He also says we live under a "thinly disguised military dictatorship". From my view, someone who sees America as being either of those systems is not the best judge of things.

SMG

anselm said...

You are reaching new heights of passive-aggressiveness! You called Sullivan "sanctimonious", "snide", and "hostile" for his rather obvious, inconclusive, and undisputable statement that "many Christianists may well recoil at the man's Mormon faith."

I get the feeling that had Sullivan used a broader brush and referred to "Christians" in that statement (still would be a relatively innocuous statement), you would not have had any objection. But that makes no sense, since (a) he would have been generalizing even more widely about the attitude of Christians, and (b) you have no objection to the term "Christianist" per se, as you state here.

In the meantime, Greenwald simply called you out for claiming that Sullivan was "mocking Mormons in general" and showing "a hostility toward ordinary religious people who aren't trying to bully their way around the political world."

The Sullivan statement was explicitly directed at Christians politically blinkered by their religion/denomination. That was the point.

Essentially, you made a legitimate objection on civility grounds to the underwear issue, and then overshot the mark into incoherence with the Christianist thing.

And now, you're resorting to victimhood from all the mean bloggers who won't be cowed by your schizophrenic sniping. I will definitely stay tuned to see what's next!

WhatsAPundit said...

If someone could point out to me how in the last 30 years homosexual rights, and general societal acceptance of homosexuality, have been reduced or abridged, I would greatly appreciate it.

I mean, to listen to Greenwald and Sullivan, it sounds like these Christianist Conservatives have been wreaking God's vengeance upon American Sodomites, but frankly I'm not actually seeing much of it....

Ann Althouse said...

Trogdor: My position is somewhat different from Glenn Reynolds', but I do agree with him that there is a huge difference between the ways Islamists would impose their will through government and the things that Sullivan's Christianists try to do. I would use the term "Christianists" to refer to some Christians, but I don't think what they are doing would impose "theocracy" or violate the separation of church and state. They are simply people who want government to impose moral standards and, like many people, happen to base their morality on religion. Their views are not disqualified because they start with religion. On that -- foolish -- theory, you'd be disqualifying the political agenda of many of the best political actors, such as those who sought the abolition of slavery and the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Their views need to be opposed the way one generally opposes social conservatism: by appealing to libertarian values.

Art V said...

Gahrie:

"the only people I have seen refer to heterosexuals as "breeders" have been either militant homosexuals, or militant gay marriage proponents."

Heh. Gahrie, the only person that I've seen using the term in this thread is you. Telling, no?

Gahrie: "Marriage is designed to produce, raise and nuture children."

Hmmm, this kind of confirms the point being made that it's the anti-gay-marriage folk that are obsessed with defining marriage as a breeding contract. i.e: you're being a weee bit hypocritical.

4) Animals "breed", human "reproduce" To refer to heterosexuals as "breeders" is to purposefully de-humanize them.

I agree, and would prefer it if you stopped using the term 'breeder'. You're the only person on the thread that's used the term. I find it offensive, and I find your argument that marriage is a glorified breeding contract both offensive and simplistic. Presumably you disapprove of people who get married but dont have children. That's just... weird.

BSC said...

Sullivan has jumped the shark. And this is hard for me as (i) he was my favorite blogger until about 3 months ago and (ii) he has helped to change and shape my political beliefs.

Anthony said...

I think this "row" reveals that Sullivan is in fact a one issue person. His interest in gay rights trumps all others including national security and economic conservativism which made Sullivan the "moderate" that he is or was.

Maybe, but I think the whole gay marriage issue is really just another tool to elevate his real concern, which is glorifying himself.

It's really impossible to argue with him and such is typical of the virtual world which I have been participating in for many years now. His basic argumentative style:

AS: "Have you stoped beating your wife?"

Target: "I have NEVER beaten my wife and I am deeply offended that you could suggest, without a shred of evidence, that I ever have!"

AS: "Aha, I must have struck a nerve. . . ."

Very sophomorish, really.

Anonymous said...

Too funny.

"I'm not a Republican, but I vote Republican and frequently parrot Republican talking points like the manufactured John Kerry controversy. And I was so depressed over the results of the elections, which were disasterous for Republicans, even though I'm not a Republican."

"But I'm not a Democrat because I believe the bogus Republican frame about them being weak to be true and there's no currently no Democrats I like."

Glenn Reynolds couldn't say it any better.

peter hoh said...

FWIW, the two blogs I read most are Althouse and Sullivan. And AmbivaBlog is right between them, alphabetically speaking.

Any blog reader must go in knowing that bloggers write without the benefit of editors. Some writers handle that better than others, and blog readers need to accept this. This is not to say that one dismisses rampant foolishness, but a blog reader's eye should be different than that of a prosecutor mining for ammunition.

Fatmouse said...

Art V, you do realize that there's an entire internet outside of this thread, yes?

Google "breeder" and stop smearing your smug all over.

Fatmouse said...

So, blue texan, do you think that the disgust over Charles Rangel's latest comment is also all repug manufacturing?

Les said...

Heh, good question, Althouse. But I'm sure you already know, there are certain types that can't be engaged with - if you don't have every "important position" properly checked off on their checklist then you're on the WRONG SIDE. It's no use trying to have a rational discussion with people who see the world in black and white, which is generally those on the far left, and the far right.

If some of these people really cared as much about gay marriage like they pretend to, then they'd see you (Althouse) are a good ally, because you can be a bridge between these two extremes - but since you don't sufficiently denounce The Bush Administration and etc, you're on the wrong side, so they're going to rip you apart instead of trying to engage you.

reoconnot said...

Mrswhatsit,

What you refer to as a gaping hole is but a cosmetic crack. One swallow doesn’t make a spring and one disease doesn’t make an epidemic.

The fact that some marriages are barren does not undermine my argument that it is in the interests of the state to recognize marriage as a special institution because marriages are the ideal organization for the creation and raising of healthy children.

We don't distinguish between child producing marriages and non child producing marriages principally because we don't know when marriages are entered into which ones will produce children.

I suppose it would make extremists feel better if we de-certified barren marriages but why should we cater to extremists?. The state should not inflict gratuitous harm on anyone. To deny homosexual unions the same standing as unions which are capable of producing children is reality based and perfectly justified. To pretend that homosexual unions are as important to the nation as child producing unions is nonsense. It is emotionally driven, politically correct, pandering.

To strengthen the family-and the nation- we need even more preferential tax treatment for those who make sacrifices for the benefit of the nation. The same may be said for those who serve in the military.

trogdor said...

Thanks for the clarification. I like that point, though I would think that the various members within each "ist" disagree about which political system is ideal. So I wonder: if Islamists generally seek a theocratic government while Christianists seek a democratic government that imposes Christian moral standards, is that a result of the respective groups' religious and moral principles, or merely a reflection of the political societies in which they tend to live?

Derve said...

If some of these people really cared as much about gay marriage like they pretend to, then they'd see you (Althouse) are a good ally, because you can be a bridge between these two extremes

Althouse is no bridge.

Someone who is actively religious and who vocally supports equal rights can be a bridge. Can explain, respectfully, to equal members of the congregation why their attitudes are fine internally, but not for all of society. If this person is respected internally, their voice will have worth.

Althouse the blog is not comparable an equal to others within the religious congregation. Thus, the commentary or advice she adds is more likely supportive of those within the congregation who believe only their views should hold sway in society. That's no bridge; that's reinforcement.

Re-read some of the earliest threads on polygamy in this blog to consider the libertarian support argument. Neither she nor Reynolds is true to libertarian principles, except in garnering readers to their blahgs.

Anonymous said...

I'm just fascinated that Mr. Sullivan finds it OK to use the word "hysterical".

Given the etymology of the word, it verges on sexist and fits in with the need by some to put female opponents with a strong voice 'in their place'.

That he uses the frequently "hysterical" (both in terms of hyper-sensitive and unintentionally funny and someone who seems to be inflicted by a 'wandering uterus') Glenn Greenwald in his defense . . . , that's just icing in the cake.

I think both Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan should seek the approved of 19th century cure for wandering uterii.

knoxgirl said...

Ann, the fact that you--and Glenn Reynolds, of all people--are consistently portrayed as Republican shills demonstrates that many on the left are unable to perceive any distinctions. Their efforts to equate "Christianists" and "Islamists" is just one example.

*Sullivan is obviously not on the left... but he sadly has demonstrated zero tolerance for anyone with differing views from his own.

P. Froward said...

It seems reasonable to suppose that people use the term "Christianist" because it implies that conservative Christians are in some significant way similar to Islamists. Why do we object to Islamists? Not because they believe that there is an absolute right and wrong, and that the law should reflect it. Virtually everybody believes that. We object to them because they cut people's hands off for petty theft, they saw journalists' heads off for kicks, they beat women for leaving the house without a male family member, and they set off car bombs in crowds of civilians.

Are there any Christians at all who do those things? No. Are there any Christians who don't do that stuff, but still think it might be a good idea? There are a few rare fringe lunatics like Christian Identity and so on, but they aren't Republicans. They hate the Republicans, because they think the GOP is controlled by the Zionist Occupation Government. Their views on foreign policy are virtually indistinguishable from Noam Chomsky's. They're not the people Sullivan's talking about, because they have less influence over US politics than the Outer Mongolian Chamber of Commerce. He's talking about the GOP.

You can't evoke Islamism without evoking any of the peculiar qualities which distinguish Islamism from other political and/or religious movements, just as you can't evoke fascism without evoking Auschwitz.

The term "Christianist", as used by people like Sullivan, is a lot like claiming that everybody who sometimes has one glass of wine too many with dinner is a chronically-unemployed wife-beating alcoholic. They're both "drinkers!" But the trait the two have in common isn't the part that makes wife-beating alkies objectionable (hint: it involves wife-beating).

It's a rhetorical shell game, and it's not at all honest.

Parenthetically, 99% of the time you see the word "fascism", it's being used in a functionally similar sense. Ditto "extremism".

It appears to me that Sullivan feels (quite sincerely, I'm sure) that culturally-conservative Christians are just sooooo bad, that the facts don't do it justice, and therefore he has to lie to help the rest of us understand the real truth — the truth that transcends mere facts — about how bad CCCs really are.

It's called bigotry. Honest people really ought to listen to themselves talk, and notice when they start thinking that way, and reconsider. People naturally do think in sharply-defined categories. Thinking in rough-and-ready approximations can be very useful, but like a lot of things, you can take it to a pathological extreme.

Blah blah, sorities, blah blah blah, look it up. I'm wasting my breath.

MrsWhatsit said...

To pretend that homosexual unions are as important to the nation as child producing unions is nonsense. It is emotionally driven, politically correct, pandering.

Not when homosexual unions ARE child-producing unions, it's not. I know of many same-sex couples who are raising children - in some cases the biological children of one member of the pair, in other cases the adopted children of one or both . The children of those unions, I submit, are as important to the nation as the children of heterosexual unions. I see no reason why these children -- and their numbers are rapidly increasing -- are less important ore less deserving of the legal protections offered by a marriage-based family structure than the children of heterosexual unions. By ignoring the existence and worth of these children, you have left your logical hole wide open. They exist, they are human, and they are considerably more -- to me, at least -- than a "cosmetic crack."

MrsWhatsit said...

Oops, I meant "or," not "ore." Should have previewed first -- sorry.

submandave said...

Continuing reoconnot's point, there is a simple biological difference between an active heterosexual union and an active homosexual union:

- most active heterosexual unions will produce children unless special efforts are taken to prevent it

- no active homosexual union will ever produce children unless special efforts are taken to cause it

All laws rely upon assumptions. The more reasonable these assumptions are the better the law responds to reality. In today's society it is entirely reasonable for the law to assume a heterosexual union (i.e. marriage) will produce children and a homosexual union will not.

Chris said...

When straight people can prove that they're able to manage the institution of marriage responsibly, then maybe I'll consider marrying my partner. Until then, it's hard to see marriage as anything but an anachronistic farce perpetuated by pious hypocrites who can't even get their own houses in order.

I won't empower christian hypocrisy by imitating their rituals. When christians start following the teachings of Christ instead of preaching hatred and intolerance, I might consider their "sacred" institutions to have some merit. It's disappointing the me that the gay community has so single-mindedly latched onto this absurd cultural convention as an icon of "liberation".

submandave said...

I understand that homosexual unions may support children (either through the extra efforts I aluded to before or through existing children at the time the union is created), but these exceptions have always existed. What about children whose parents aren't married or are just living together? Children outside marriage will always exist, and have traditionally been the exception.

I find, however, this argument to be less than convincing since it is never stated as a primary reason for advocating gay marriage, but seems to be reserved as a response to statement of biological reality. Do you believe in restricting gay marriage to those couples with children? It seems inconsistent to argue that gay marriage is "for the children" while ignoring that the real biological differences inherent in hetrosexual and homosexual relationships tend to decouple the idea of marriage from child rearing if both relationships are considered equivalent.

Les said...

"Someone who is actively religious and who vocally supports equal rights can be a bridge."

Sure. And someone who is not actively hostile to religion, or specifically Christians in general, can also be a bridge.

MrsWhatsit said...

I agree with you, mostly, submandave-- it's quite true that children grow up outside of marriage for many reasons and no, I wouldn't give any special recognition to gay unions that have children as opposed to those that don't. And you're right that the arguments on this point generally separate the two issues.

I was simply responding to reoconnot's logic, which explicitly bases an anti-gay-marriage stand on the state's purported interest in protecting children. Precisely because of the point you make, I find reoconnot's argument to be logically flawed.

Mack said...

Sullivan isn't hostile to religion. He simply doesn't tiptoe around it. There's a huge difference.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I didn't realize Ann was accepting engagements.

Mack said...

Knoxgirl,

Theocrats are theocrats. It doesn't mean all theocrats are the same. There are many Christians in this country who want it to be an explicitly Christian country, with many forms of religious law, outlawing abortion, sodomy, funding churches, forcing prayer in school (sure, you can sit there quietly and wait while everybody sets aside your time so they can pray). Religious prisons, banning gay marriage, you name it, a subsantial number of Christians in this country want to impose their religious views on the rest of us.

Do they want to ban minority religions? Do they want to execute non-Christians? No, nobody said they did. So what do you want me to call them then, "enthusiastic?"

It may be execrable, as Reynolds says, for various regimes to defend their behavior by trying to liken it to comparatively minor injustices in America. It's also execrable, though, for Americans to defend our behavior by waxing indignant about supposed comparisons to other countries. It's a complete BS rhetorical move, and if Reynolds doesn't know better, he should.

chickenlittle said...

mrswhatsit said:
"I was simply responding to reoconnot's logic, which explicitly bases an anti-gay-marriage stand on the state's purported interest in protecting children."

The IRS presumably extends a tax break to someone in homosexual union with a child as well, allows that child to attend public schools, etc, etc. What more would you like the state to do that is in the best interest of the child?

Telford said...

Art V:

Gahrie:

"the only people I have seen refer to heterosexuals as "breeders" have been either militant homosexuals, or militant gay marriage proponents."

Heh. Gahrie, the only person that I've seen using the term in this thread is you. Telling, no?


Art V, what is telling is that you didn't even bother to go to the top of the page and search for the term 'breed', just to be sure, before you accused Gahrie of introducing the very word that you introduced into the thread.

Sheesh.

Telford Work

Gerry said...

"Why not engage with me instead of trying to make me into your enemy? I have supported gay marriage in numerous posts on this blog for almost three years, and I am a law professor who teaches a course in Religion and the Constitution. Why don't you see me as a valuable ally or, at the least, a person to avoid reprinting lies about?"

You are inching ever so closer to the realization that I have been hoping you would eventually make.

When the day finally comes, you may still like neither party, but you will dislike one a heck of a lot less.

Robert said...

I noticed the line
"I criticize Sullivan when he shows a hostility toward ordinary religious people who aren't trying to bully their way around the political world. "

I read Sullivan almost every day (about as often as I read Instapundit, actually) and perhaps my compass is cracked, but I can't recall reading him showing any such hostility.

Any politically-active Christian who sincerely and publicly advocates basing the civil and/or criminal laws of this country on sectarian Christian doctrine, has, in my amateur's opinion, earned the soubriquet 'Christianist'. If he or she finds this objectionable, well, that's unfortunate. If I publicly support national health care, it's disingenous for me to object to being called a 'liberal'.

MrsWhatsit said...

Yet again I will say that I was pointing out the logical problem with the assertion that the state's purpose in protecting heterosexual marriage to the exclusion of homosexual unions is rationally based on the protection of children. I was not making a claim that the state should be doing more.

However, if I were making a list of protections accorded to the children of marriage that are not accorded to the children of unmarried gay people, a few possibilities that spring to mind without much thought would include protecting visitation, custody, and child support rights for the child with both gay adults after a split (probably protected in some states, but not in mine); intestate inheritance; or Social Security payments after a death. Legal adoption can take care of many of these issues, of course, to the extent that it's available to a gay parent. Marriage or something like marriage is not the only solution. But again, that just points out the flaw in claiming that marriage as it is presently constructed is designed to protect children. If that is the design, the fit is quite poor.

Clarey watcher said...

I think Ann is wrong, actually, though understandably so. Sullivan's a bright guy who for reasons unbeknownst to me has decided to break the words "Christian" and "conservative" and wrap them very tightly around his own frame, in order to convince himself and others that there has been no change in his ideological viewpoint: he's "pure." And so other people who might by most of us be considered to fall under those umbrellas, are in his vocabulary neither "Christian" nor "conservative." Now, I think that's wrong use of the language -- but reading Sullivan's site makes it clear that that's how he uses it.

Similarly Sullivan has sort of broadened out the word "Republican" in a strange way. Now, I for one would never call Ann a "Republican" blogger. But the way Sullivan seems to use the word, well, she is: I think it's consistent with the way he is (to my regret) writing now. Although I have to admit I can't for the life of me flesh out Sullivan's description of "Republican" beyond a vague idea of, you're not extremely left, and you have real objections to something he thinks is self-evident. But I'm not quite ready to say he can't pin it down better than that.

I also, by the way, think that while I wouldn't agree with Sullivan at all as regards Ann -- I think he's about right with regard to the Instapundit there. Greg Djerejian in particular has done a good job tracking Reynolds' descent into yes-manning the Republicans: I think Instapundit, no less than Sullivan, has really degenerated of late (whereas Ann and Mickey Kaus just keep the quality coming, which is, if you look around, kind of amazing).

Revenant said...

Theocrats are theocrats. It doesn't mean all theocrats are the same. There are many Christians in this country who want it to be an explicitly Christian country, with many forms of religious law, outlawing abortion, sodomy, funding churches, forcing prayer in school

A theocracy is a state ruled by ecclesiastical authorities. A theocrat is such an authority. A theocracy is NOT a state in which Christians and non-Christians vote their consciences to elect leaders and pass laws that reflect their values. The proper term for that form of government is "a democracy".

The argument that it is wrong for fundamentalists to vote to make gay sex illegal makes no more sense than the argument that it is wrong for Democrats to vote for higher taxes on the rich, environmentalists to vote against allowing people to drain wetlands on their property, or businessmen to vote for tariffs on their competitors' products. In all of the above cases people are voting to screw over rights that other people think are important, but which they themselves do not.

cb said...

I water my lawn so that my grass will be green. Unfortunately, there are pockets of grass in the corners that do not receive water, and are less green.

MrsWhatsit, just because some children are in marriageless households does not refute the claim that the primary purpose of marriage is for children, same as you can't refute my claim that I water my yard for green grass, despite not all grass getting watered.

Clayton said...

"When straight people can prove that they're able to manage the institution of marriage responsibly, then maybe I'll consider marrying my partner. Until then, it's hard to see marriage as anything but an anachronistic farce perpetuated by pious hypocrites who can't even get their own houses in order."

My wife and I are coming up on 27 years. I agree that marriage is in serious trouble in this country, and far more so from divorce than from homosexuality. Guess what? Your allies are part of why marriage is in trouble--the crowd that thought that easy divorce would solve the problems of miserable adults and confused kids. It didn't.

The fact remains that marriage is a state concern only because of the kids. There are childless couples who get the benefits of being free riders--but increasingly, those who intend to have no kids aren't bothering with marriage anyway.

No homosexual couple has ever produced a child. Ever. If you say otherwise you are lying. Holding a turkey baster (as in one rather celebrated California lawsuit) doesn't make you the father.

This attempt to portray social conservatives as "Christianists" by analogy to "Islamists" is dishonest. NO ONE is proposing to make Christianity the state religion. NO ONE is proposing to execute homosexuals--or even send them to prison. The vast majority of social conservatives are prepared to let homosexual adults do what they want in private--just don't insist on governmental approval. The formal term for this (before the word was debased by liberal misuse) is tolerance. Keep pushing to destroy democracy, and you might wipe out that willingness to be tolerant.

Brian Taylor said...

Ann: I think Greenwald made a mistake by lumping you in with Reynolds as being a Republican shill; the latter can be much more accurately described as such than yourself. He probably was initially planning on writing a description of both of you, but once Reynolds' name came up, he opted for one that only really applied to him.

That being said, I think it's interesting that you still never really addressed his actual point, which wasn't that you were unfairly taking umbrage at Sullivan's mocking of Mormon culture, but rather that you criticized his use of the term "Christianist" with no context while you have repeatedly bandied about the term "Islamist" yourself.

Instead, you launched into a raging, ad hominem-riddled screed unbecoming of an esteemed member of the academic community, or even any well-adjusted adult for that matter.

Calling him names and offering petulant and non-specific criticism of his writing ability might lead an objective observer to believe that you are unable or unwilling to engage him on the merits of his point, which (ironically) is precisely the failing of which you accuse Andrew Sullivan in this very post.

Harkonnendog said...

"Instead, you launched into a raging, ad hominem-riddled screed..."

Where is this screed? I must have missed it.

Pogo said...

Come off it Brian. What bullocks.

Islamists kill people. They bomb buildings, they saw off heads, crash airplanes into towers, and send grandma, kids, and the retarded off with explosives on their chests to blow themselves and innocent bystanders to smithereens. They want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and they are burning 50-100 cars (plus some buses) every night in France.

There is no Christian comparison here.
So I say bullshit to your fey and witless argument.

cb said...

A quick trip to Brian Taylor's blog reveals "a raging, ad hominem-riddled screed" on the President and his family.

Serenity Now said...

Robert: Any politically-active Christian who sincerely and publicly advocates basing the civil and/or criminal laws of this country on sectarian Christian doctrine, has, in my amateur's opinion, earned the soubriquet 'Christianist'.

What is the difference between "sectarian Christian doctrine" and plain ol' "Christian doctrine"?

Brian Taylor said...

These were the highlights:

* Glenn Greenwald is such an idiot.

* Am I supposed to respond to this foolishness?

* Glenn, you moron, in case you didn't notice, Sullivan is mocking Mormons in general.

* . . . . you disreputable slimeball.

* And your writing is putrid.

* But I do love the pathetic jealousy of your post title.

Brian Taylor said...

Wow. The total number of people who have visited my blog is now...2.

I don't really know where I engaged in blatant ad hominems to the extent that Ann did against Greenwald on my blog, but even if I had engaged in ad hominems, it's quite different to do so regarding public figures who would not and will not engage me in personal discourse. You don't see me calling Ann names here, do you?

Greenwald made a criticism without ad hominems, and Ann responded with a deluge of them. That's all I said.

Harkonnendog said...

Also, for those of you who think "theocrats are theocrats", how can you not realize that the vast majority of Christians are NOT theocrats?

Around 75% of all Americans are Christian. If they wanted a theocracy the US would be a theocracy. More important, if Christian Americans had EVER wanted a theocracy the US would now be a theocracy, as the nation was even more Christian in the past than it is now.

Pull your heads out of your asses. There is no Christianist threat- Christians created this non-Christian country you live in. Christians are the reason you have the freedom of speech necessary to make ridiculous claims about how the evil Christian theocrats want us all to live according to the Old Testament or some such crap.

This particular boogeyman lives only in your own imagination. There is no Christian theocracy, outside of the Vatican, in the world. There is no Christianist threat, as Christians themselves won't allow Christianists to ever be more than a kooky joke.

There is, however, an Islamist threat, as a great many countries which are majority Muslim are Muslim theocracies.

Joe Baby said...

Re: children, marriage, and society

The societal interest isn't as great between two committed and emotional partners who fully intend to stay together and raise the child.

The interest is paramount, however, in persuading society to refrain from having children until the situation noted above is present.

In short, the societal interest is not as great with the (planned) children of homosexual unions (with third-party consent and reproductive technology). That child is wanted and planned for.

Society does have an unique and special interest in persuading men + women to become married if they plan to become intimate. Without this societal pressure, other formations result, with children raised in one-parent households, etc.

I know some will simply proclaim birth control, Plan B, and abortion as solutions, but these all still ignore the benefit to society when men + women pair up in lifelong relationships.

Brian Taylor said...

Islamists kill people. They bomb buildings, they saw off heads, crash airplanes into towers, and send grandma, kids, and the retarded off with explosives on their chests to blow themselves and innocent bystanders to smithereens. They want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and they are burning 50-100 cars (plus some buses) every night in France.

There is no Christian comparison here.
So I say bullshit to your fey and witless argument.


That's all fine and great, but just like Ann, it fails to address the point.

I was simply paraphrasing Greenwald's argument, which, if you'll notice, had nothing to do with terrorism. Neither he nor Sullivan has ever suggested that Christianists are on the level of Islamic terrorists. The key distinction here is the word "terrorists."

Islamists want to impose their religious beliefs on society. Christianists want to impose their religious beliefs on society.

If you mentally equate "Christianist" with "Islamic terrorist", that's your own imprecision, not Greenwald's.

MrsWhatsit said...

No, of course it doesn't. But I don't think you are claiming that your method of watering your lawn is the only reasonable way to do the job, either. You're saying that you find it reasonable to compromise the goal of achieving green grass in the name of efficiency. Is efficiency in the production of children served by excluding homosexual couples from marriage? Perhaps it is, somehow, but so far nobody has explained how.

I don't disagree that the primary purpose of marriage has traditionally been the protection of children. The problem is that I see no logical connection between serving that purpose and excluding homosexuals from marriage. But I've got to stop saying the same thing over and over again now, and get back to work. Enjoy your lawn!

Brian Taylor said...

Oh, cb, could you point out where I engaged in ad hominem in the Bush post on my blog? Maybe I'm blind to it because I wrote it, but I'm not really seeing one, other than perhaps "draft dodger," which is at best a benign example.

Joe Baby said...

Re: Christians imposing their beliefs

The Christianist/Islamist comparison is obviously being used (even if not equating) to say that foundational beliefs about morality are unwelcome unless they are derived from a secular origin.

I'm not really sure what "imposing their beliefs" means. Prayer in school is perhaps the best argument here, although I still find it weak. Is someone trying to impose where/when/if you go to church?

And wow, Christians want to ban abortion, ergo, are imposing beliefs? (Is abortion only wrong from a religious foundation? How sad for secularism.)

We just had an amendment in AZ re: factory farming. Many folks thought it was wrong, and the voters agreed with 'em. Should we have demanded to know the genesis of that objection, and then objected if we have a different foundation?

Funny.

cb said...

I don't wish to engage with you, Brian, I was just pointing out to the other readers and Ann your point of view. Goodbye.

Brian Taylor said...

cb --

I see. So because I have written blog posts critical of President Bush and conservative columnists, I can't possibly have a legitimate point.

At least you're honest and forthright about your unwillingness to engage. I'll give that to you.

Pogo said...

Brian, conflating Islamists and Christians who oppose gay marriage is reprehensible twaddle.

"Islamist" refers to those Muslims seeking to impose Islam by force, especially by terror. There is no Christian analogue.

You do not have legitmate point. You're post is imbecility masquerading as thoughtfulness. It deserves nothing more than a kick in the pants and Granma's whap upside the head for outrageous juvenile snottery.

Brian Taylor said...

Pogo --

Why didn't you just cut and paste your first response instead of rewriting exactly the same thing in different words (with a dash of name-calling for spice)?

Greenwald put this nicely himself. Here's a little exercise.

Christian : Muslim

Christianist : Islamist

Christianist terrorist : Islamist terrorist.

Christianist NOT : Islamist terrorist.

To call someone a "Christianist" is NOT to say that they are the equivalent of Islamic terrorist or Islamic fascists. Yet you continue to equate the two, over and over and over and over and over."

Brian Taylor said...

Again, the salient point here is that if you mistakenly believe that "Christianist" and "Islamic terrorist" are interchangeable conceptually, that is your mistake, not anyone else's.

You may think there is no distinction between an "Islamist" and an "Islamic terrorist", but unfortunately, there is. Just like there is a distinction between "Christianists" who want the Ten Commandments as the law and the "Christian terrorist" who bombs abortion clinics.

Is this really that hard to grasp?

Pogo said...

When dealing wiht those quite slow in grasping what's before them, oftentimes it's useful to repeat the message, varying slightly.

Sometimes, however, a conk on the head is needed.

Re: "You may think there is no distinction between an "Islamist" and an "Islamic terrorist", but unfortunately, there is."

Bullshit.
There's no difference at all. Islamists support terrorism that expands their rule.
Just because you're that credulous, I don't have accept your specious premise. Your attempt to equate the two is tortured and stupid. You need a cognitive enema.

Steven said...

The biggest problem with marriage-is-for-children is that it defends marriage as it once was, not as it is today.

Old-style family law was generally constructed with the aim of having children be born and raised within marriages. Bastards' mothers were not entitled to child support. Divorces could only be granted for cause, with the "innocent" parent entitled to custody and financial support. At the same time, annulments for non-consumation (and even for barrenness in some jurisdictions) were available. In a number of jurisdictions, contraception was illegal within marriage.

So, family law was based on the proposition that marriage was an institution for producing and rearing children and that there was a state interest in discouraging the production and rearing of children outside of marriages.

Under that regime, gay marriage makes no sense. A gay couple cannot of itself produce children; every one is the product of an extramarital affair, if only with a sperm donor.

But nowadays? Heterosexual marriage is a temporary association that can be dissolved at "no fault", while bstardry is a dead concept. There's no particular reason, given the modern state of marriage, to restrict it to heterosexual couples -- on either heterosexual or couple grounds.

Brian Taylor said...

OK, then: following your logic, is it fair for me to say that people who want to ban gay marriage and force prayer in the schools ("Christianists") all want to kill abortion doctors ("Christian terrorists")?

That would make the pro-life crowd quite the murderous bunch.

Revenant said...

Greenwald put this nicely himself. Here's a little exercise.

Christian : Muslim
Christianist : Islamist
Christianist terrorist : Islamist terrorist.


You left out the important step:

Islamist:Supporter of terrorism

Ergo, according to Greenwald and Sullivan:

Christianist:Supporter of terrorism

Which is, of course, is exactly what Sullivan and Greenwald are trying to allege -- that there's no difference between people who oppose gay marriage and people who murder Jews by the busload. They *could* be honest and simply define "Christianist" as "person who thinks the United States should run according to Christian principles", but that wouldn't sound threatening to most people because practically everyone in America *likes* Christian principles.

This is one of countless examples of Greenwald's head being lodged in his ass. The term "Islamist" is used strictly to refer to the millions of Muslims who support the imposition of Islamic law by any means necessary. It is not used to refer to fundamentalist Muslims who vote like fundamentalist Muslims.

chickenlittle said...

mrswhatsit said:

"Is efficiency in the production of children served by excluding homosexual couples from marriage? Perhaps it is, somehow, but so far nobody has explained how."

To continue with cb's lawn metaphor, given the choice between watering the portions capable of germinating seed, and those which are not, which is more efficient?

remember, we're in a drought

Pogo said...

Brian,
Your illogic is almost magical. It's so stupendously wrong, it kicks itself in the ass. I bow to your superior fatuousness. You are truly The One, the King of Crazytown, The Sultan of Spurious, the Magnificat of the Meaningless.

I am speechless.

Brian Taylor said...

First of all, thank you for approaching this in a rational, level-headed manner.


You left out the important step:

Islamist:Supporter of terrorism

Ergo, according to Greenwald and Sullivan:

Christianist:Supporter of terrorism


There's a reason that step is left out: it doesn't hold logically.

You're falsely claiming that it is impossible for an "Islamist" to not support terrorist actions to achieve their ends. Again, your perception of the meaning of a word doesn't change the word's actual definition.

An "Islamist" simply wants to impose sharia law on the world.

An "Islamist terrorist" wants to do so through violent coercion.

Likewise:

A "Christianist" simply wants to impose biblical law on the world.

A "Christian terrorist" wants to do so through violent coercion.

Your formulation would only work logically if "Christian terrorists" didn't (or couldn't) exist.

It is the height of a double standard to imply that identical word constructs in which only the name of a religion is changed have entirely different meanings.


The term "Islamist" is used strictly to refer to the millions of Muslims who support the imposition of Islamic law by any means necessary. It is not used to refer to fundamentalist Muslims who vote like fundamentalist Muslims.


But that is only the case from colloquialism and verbal imprecision, not in any dispassionate analysis of the analogous semantics involved. What Greenwald is pointing out is that "Christianist" is a term distinct from "Christian terrorist." Conversely, "Islamist" must be logically distinct from "Islamist terrorist."

MrsWhatsit said...

OK, I'm still here, though I shouldn't be. I can't quite address the metaphor yet because I don't know what the drought represents. There are obvious costs in watering a lawn such as using up water and using up time. But what scarcity is at work that requires a comparable efficiency in recognizing marriages? What would be the cost, in short, of recognizing more of them? What are we worried about using up?

chickenlittle said...

Steven said:
"There's no particular reason, given the modern state of marriage, to restrict it to heterosexual couples -- on either heterosexual or couple grounds."

I see the problem as extending the marriage franchise to just gays, absent legal reasoning why it could not then be extended to other groups. Of course, if that is the people's will, so be it.

Mack said...

Revenant

The argument that it is wrong for fundamentalists to vote to make gay sex illegal makes no more sense than the argument that it is wrong for Democrats to vote for higher taxes on the rich, environmentalists to vote against allowing people to drain wetlands on their property, or businessmen to vote for tariffs on their competitors' products.

Actually, it's incredibly different.

Are you really telling me that if I said I'm voting to raise your taxes because my religion tells me to hate you that you wouldn't have any problem with that? You'd just say "Oh, isn't that nice"?

The reason we have taxes and wetlands and tarrifs is that these are necessities for people to live together without destroying each other. That's not an excuse to tell somebody else who you'd like them to have sex with.

Do you seriously not see any problem with a majority imposing their religious beliefs on a minority, simply because they're a majority?

Pogo said...

Brian said, "An "Islamist" simply wants to impose sharia law on the world.
An "Islamist terrorist" wants to do so through violent coercion"


Oy vey.
I'll shorten it for you, because Greewald is too moronic and dishonest to do so:
An "Islamist" simply wants to impose sharia law on the world through violent coercion.

There is simply no Christian equivalent.

Brian Taylor said...

Pogo:

You can refuse to accept the obvious and continually distort the premise all you want. You can get all enraged and up in arms or you can realize that the point Sullivan and Greenwald were making actually proves your point, but only if you can understand that there is a difference between a person who practices a religion and a person who practices the same religion and commits violent acts in its name.

Throughout history, Christians have committed violent acts in the name of Christianity, and Christians have committed murder for what they believe to be biblical purposes, but those people are not mere "Christianists." They are "Christian terrorists." All Greenwald is pointing out is that it makes no sense to not afford the same distinction to any other religion. This is really elementary logical reasoning. We're talking the simplest kinds of one-to-one relationships of terms here.

Let's make this as clear as possible:

No. one. compared. Christianists. to. Islamic. terrorists.

Except, perhaps, you and your cohorts, by baselessly imputing motives with no regard for logic or structures of the English language.

Pogo said...

Re; "No. one. compared. Christianists. to. Islamic. terrorists."

Bullshit (again).
The term 'Christianist' is meant to create exactly that equivalence.
Your claims otherwise are without merit. Greenwald is clearly an idiot of the highest order, awesome in his ineptitude. It's fruitless to base any argumentation on His Sockpuppetness.

Brian Taylor said...

That's funny; I guess Sullivan forgot to leave out his lengthy disclaimer directly to the contrary when he first started using the term. Oops...I guess it was a slip of the keystrokes when he explicitly explained that he was not, in any way, shape or form, comparing Christianists to terrorists. I guess you just can't be bothered to read anything that doesn't reaffirm your worldview.

Don't you think Sullivan and Greenwald are the best sources for the stated intentions of their words?

If you honestly think it's fair of you to disregard basic logic and pages of explanations making the necessary distinctions in their usage of the word simply on what you perceive to be their preceding reputation, then I'll accept that and there'll clearly be no progress left to make in this discussion.

chickenlittle said...

mrswhatsit:

"What are we worried about using up?"

Social Security?

Brian Taylor said...

mrswhatsit:

I think he's probably referring more to spousal benefits; such as same-sex marriages resulting in partner coverage and things of that nature. If a company allows a spouse to be covered under insurance, for example, legal same-sex marriage would make it difficult to deny that coverage to a gay couple.

I don't think that really holds much water, though, since I find it hard to believe that the people who oppose same-sex marriage would be distraught if a comparable strain on resources were exacted by virtue of a hypothetical influx in traditional marriage rates.

Social security is an independent benefit with no relation to marital status at all.

Brian Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Revenant said...

Are you really telling me that if I said I'm voting to raise your taxes because my religion tells me to hate you that you wouldn't have any problem with that? You'd just say "Oh, isn't that nice"?

I said Christians who vote for Christian laws aren't theocrats -- not that I liked them. They, like pro-tax Democrats, are assholes. Both groups use their delusional faith-based belief systems to justify stripping people of their rights. Their motivations are of no interest to me -- what matters is the loss of rights.

Sullivan has thrown in his lot with one set of anti-rights assholes because they stand in opposition to another set of anti-rights assholes who are "anti-" to rights Sullivan cares about more. He's trying to spin simple self-interest as a noble stand for important principles. He isn't honest enough to admit that this is all about self-interest -- HE would happily pay higher taxes for the right to marry, and he's got no problem forcing everyone else to do the same. I, on the other hand, fail to see my having a few extra thousand bucks extorted out of me each year in exchange for the right to marry a guy (should I spontaneously turn gay) counts as a "win" for my basic human rights.

Revenant said...

But that is only the case from colloquialism and verbal imprecision, not in any dispassionate analysis of the analogous semantics involved.

The word "fag" is only a derogatory term for "homosexual" because of colloquialism and verbal imprecision, too. The word still means what it means.

Greenwald and Sullivan know full well that the current meaning of "Islamist" is "Muslim who supports terrorism". They deny that's their reason for using "Christianist", which makes them liars. You agree with them, which makes you either a liar or an idiot. In either case, the status of "Christianist" as a deliberate attempt to equate "against homosexuality" with "supports mass murder and totalitarianism" stands.

It says quite a lot about Sullivan and his ilk that they've managed to get a person like me -- who deeply loathes Christian fundamentalism and supports gay marriage -- to actually defend fundamentalist Christians against unfair smears by gay marriage supporters.

Brian Taylor said...

Revenant --

I think you're making a fundamental mistake in acting as though you have some sort of "right" not to be taxed. It's easy to forget that you make your money under the protections that the government provides (and pays for through taxes.) If the government didn't collect any taxes, there'd be no recourse if some Neanderthal kicked down your door and took your house, car, and all of your money. Of course, that's an extreme example, but I think you get what I'm saying.

I agree with you on your central point, however, that merely voting on issues based on values informed by religion is not sufficient to make one a theocrat. Only people with power can even potentially be theocrats, and hopefully, the Constitution will prevent such a scenario from actually taking place in this country.

chickenlittle said...

Brian Taylor said:

"Social security is an independent benefit with no relation to marital status at all."

But it does have a lot to do with procreation, seen demographically, doesn't it?

Wade_Garrett said...

I'm not going to read through all 106 comments to see if somebody has already made this point, but anybody who reads Andrew Sullivan's blog knows that he is constantly making distinctions between Christians, who are "ordinary religious people" who go to church and believe Jesus Christ is their savior, and Christianists, who believe that secular law should reflect their Christian dogma.

Pogo said...

Re: "I guess it was a slip of the keystrokes when he explicitly explained that he was not, in any way, shape or form, comparing Christianists to terrorists."
Too cute by half that he has to do so.
Now, I'm not saying you're ugly, or stupid, or that you sleep with barn animals, but, there is a connection... Bullshit. That's an old and cheap debate trick, murder by insinuation, giving the author plausible deniability.

"Don't you think Sullivan and Greenwald are the best sources for the stated intentions of their words?"
No.
If I said Homosexualists were like Islamists, you could call me an idiot slandering gays, and you'd be right.

"If you honestly think it's fair of you to disregard basic logic..."
This statement makes it quite clear that you have no real understanding of basic logic at all, so I don't give a rat's ass what you think. You're a Sully Greenwald sockpuppet apologist. Yes, you can write full sentences. No, my logic professor would not have suffered you gladly, but pinned you on the floor until you cried for momma.

anselm said...

Pogo:
The term 'Christianist' is meant to create exactly that equivalence.

One shred of direct evidence on your claimed equivalence (between Christianists and Islamic terrorists) would go a long way in mitigating the spectacular idiocy you have exhibited with this stubborn claim on omnisicence as to what other people mean. Usually, when attacking a straw argument, people try to conceal it or dress it up a little. Your approach is a little more brazen.

If you really claim such a priori monopoly on the truth contrary to literal meaning, why do you even deign to communicate with other human beings on a blog?

And why does it offend you so much that non-christians (or non-christianists, under the running definition) would resist the legislative adoption of christian mores?

Here's the conflation that I perceive in your argument: resistance to the state sanctioning of religion, decried as a bigoted war against Christianity.

Maybe some of us would rather not be ruled by people who think and reason as you do.

Wade_Garrett said...

Furthermore, Ann, I don't see how some of the religious right's proposed laws can be seen as anything other than their attempt to make the United States more of a theocracy. You can have morality without religion -- for instance, everybody agrees that murder is wrong, so that's why the government can make murder illegal without being accused of attempting to turn America into a theocracy. But . . .

Teaching creationism isn't about setting some minimum standard of morality, it is about religion. Appointing three members of opus dei to the Supreme Court isn't about setting some bare standard of morality, its about religion. Outlawing sodomy isn't about morality, its about religion. Abstinence-only sex education isn't about morality, its about religion. I can go on, but I won't.

anselm said...

If I said Homosexualists were like Islamists

...then you would be comparing those furthering the homosexual agenda with those furthering the Islamic agenda. Those terms would not directly implicate the methods used by each of those groups, and indeed their preferred methods could very well be different. The terms would still serve their function, just as mammals and reptiles may be on the same Linnaeic level (family), but are not mirror images of each other. They're, you know, different.

Harkonnendog said...

Even if you accept Brian Taylor's deluded premise that Islamist doesn't imply a Muslim who perpetrates or at least supports Islamic terrorism, the term Christianist is still stupid.

It implies that Christians are going around creating theocracies and murdering thousands of civilians to create Christian theocracies, when they aren't. It implies there are a bunch of Christian theocracies creating and funding Christian terror groups to destabilize secular democracies, when there aren't. It implies democracies in Europe have Christian minorities who are attempting to usurp the secular governments and creating mini-Christian states run according to a Christian equivalent of Sharia, when they don't. It implies a hundred other things that simply aren't so.

Again, this is a boogeyman that exists nowhere except in certain pepole's deluded minds. Or, possibly, they know it is a ridiculous and unfair comparison but they insist on it anyway because if the term becomes mainstream it will empower them in the gay marriage debate.

I'm not sure which is worse, delusion or cynical manipulation. Either way, Brian Taylor, you suck.

Brian Taylor said...

revenant --

As far as the usage of the word "fag" is concerned, you've kind of just proven my point. You're absolutely correct in saying that it's understood to be a slur on homosexuals, but that the word literally denotes "a bundle of sticks."

That being said, however, what Sullivan has done is the equivalent of writing, "I went down the street and picked up a fag." You might colloquially understand him to mean that he had a sexual interlude, but Sullivan would necessarily not be lying or wrong if in fact he went down the street and picked up a bundle of sticks.

Sullivan took great pains to elucidate his intention of using the word when he commenced doing so; if you don't believe him, that's fine, and I take your point that perhaps he had slightly disingenuous motives in doing so, but that doesn't change the fact that the formulation of the term is factually correct.

You do have a point, but in reality, there's no way to truly know if Sullivan intended to do to conflate opposition to gay marriage with Islamic terrorism or not; based on his hostility to those who have recklessly made such comparisons in recent months and years, I'm inclined to believe not.

But if you believe so, I guess that's your prerogative. Neither of us can truly know what was in his head.

anselm said...

e.g., "Christianists are motivated by the salvation of mankind and use only legal and compassionate methods in that quest, while Islamists are propelled only by hatred, nihilism, and yearning for death and/or domination, and will choose violent over peaceful methods 100% of the time."

See, that statement still does not bleed either terms of its given meaning.

chickenlittle said...

wade_garret said: "anybody who reads Andrew Sullivan's blog knows...."

Well I stopped reading him regularly about a year ago, so maybe he's changed, but one thing I found repellent was his snide disdain for anyone who disagreed with his dogma.
Sounds like he's changed for the better according to you.

Pogo said...

Re: "One shred of direct evidence on your claimed equivalence (between Christianists and Islamic terrorists) would go a long way...
What, pray tell, my dear anselm, would be the "direct evidence" in an insinuation? You can't possibly be asking for "proof" that the Sullivan-Greenwald juxtaposition of terrorism with religion was intended to imply a direct connection between the two. Tell me you're not that stupid. I beg you.

But if you are that credulous, some advice: don't watch any more TV. There's all sorts of unproven premises there. You know, Michael Jordan wears Hanes, therefore....

...attacking a straw argument...
Wrong fallacy. Try again.

If you really claim such a priori monopoly on the truth...
Bingo! Now that's a straw man. Good job!

And why does it offend you so much that non-christians would resist the legislative adoption of christian mores?
Who said it did?

Here's the conflation that I perceive in your argument...
Bullocks. Learn to read, man. You're flailing.

Maybe some of us would rather not be ruled by people who think and reason as you do.
I suspected that was true by the fact that morons like Kerry, Kennedy, Kucinich, and Dayton get elected by your side.

Brian Taylor said...

harkonnendog --

That was a textbook example of both begging the question and knocking down a strawman. If you actually read what I have written here without manufacturing your own pre-conceived notions of what I believe, you would notice two things:

1) At no point did I ever say or even imply that Islamist terrorists as we know them today are comparable to Christianists as defined by Sullivan and Greenwald.

2) I took great pains to demonstrate how myself, Sullivan, and Greenwald believe just the opposite: that Christianists are not even comparable to Christian terrorists like abortion clinic bombers, much less the fanatical, abhorrent Islamic terrorists of today.

The argument here is primarily a semantic and logical one; you'd do well to remove emotion and imputed motives from the equation.

I can see the logic behind assuming everyone who disagrees with you hates Christians and loves terrorists; it must make you feel good and proud to smack them down. Unfortunately for you, I both love Christians and hate the terrorists; I'm only arguing for common sense and a unified standard in the language we use to describe the various factions of religious people of all stripes.

Revenant said...

I think you're making a fundamental mistake in acting as though you have some sort of "right" not to be taxed.

And Christians think Andrew Sullivan is making a fundamental mistake in thinking he has some sort of "right" to have sex with men and marry them. Suffice it to say that there's quite a lot more support for property rights in western philosophy, common law, and the Constitution than there is for a right to sex and matrimony with the person of your choosing.

It's easy to forget that you make your money under the protections that the government provides (and pays for through taxes.)

In the sense that it is easy to forget that neither Andrew Sullivan nor the United States of America would exist if it wasn't for Christians and heterosexuals. Some might conclude that gives Christians and heterosexuals the right to dictate how American society is run, just as you've concluded that the fact that the government spends a small portion of my taxes protecting me gives them a right to however much of my money they feel like taking. I take the view that you're all just seizing on whatever flimsy support you can find for the policies you wanted enacted anyway.

Anyway, if you have a point beyond "my view of human rights differs from yours" I'd be interested in hearing it.

chickenlittle said...

brian taylor said Sullivan said:
'I went down the street and picked up a fag"

I think Sullivan would actually say 'I went down the street and picked up a pack of fags'

anselm said...

Pogo:

"I can't prove my point evidence, ergo I don't need to."

Or,

"The existence of that which cannot be proven cannot be challenged? Oh, and you're stupid."

That's my rendition of your reply. Straw man? If so, please explain.

Brian Taylor said...

Strike that last paragraph from my previous posts; all of the strawmen I've been dealing with today have apparently caused me to create one of my own.

I hereby disavow my last paragraph. Sorry about that; just got caught up in the heat of the moment.

anselm said...

If Kerry and Kennedy represent the whole contingent of Americans who would rather not live in a Christian state (you know, one where christian mores are enshrined in law?), then we're in trouble.

Luckily, they're not, and you're just reaching for your boogeymen of first resort.

Brian Taylor said...

revenant --

I don't fundamentally disagree with your assessment regarding marriage; I think you're overstating Sullivan's antipathy toward Christians (he still adamantly identifies as a Catholic), but I agree with you that there's not really a de facto "right" to get married, gay or straight. I think it's more of a societal structure that people simply have to evaluate on their own criteria of fairness.

My intention wasn't to affirm what you perceive Sullivan's stance on "marriage as a right" to be, but only to contest what I took to mean that you consider "taxation" to be a violation of rights.

Wade_Garrett said...

"In the sense that it is easy to forget that neither Andrew Sullivan nor the United States of America would exist if it wasn't for Christians and heterosexuals."

Wow. I don't know how to begin making fun of you.

anselm said...

Pogo, my final two cents are this: if you bash writers for positions that they explicitly disavow, expressly admitting that the evidence for your characterization does not exist, and then go on to flail others for setting up straw men, you are a rank hypocrite.

But hey, we all are, right? That's why rigid moral codes regarding personal behavior need to be put into effect ASAP - so we can police each other's hypocrisy. Only then will the Christ lord's light shine on us all.

Harkonnendog said...

Brian Taylor,

"1) At no point did I ever say or even imply that Islamist terrorists as we know them today are comparable to Christianists as defined by Sullivan and Greenwald."

Yeah, I'll buy that. Never mind the fact that the power of the word ChristianIST derives, 100%, from the fact that it is analogous to the word IslamIST. And never mind the glaringly obvious and purposely provocative similarities in the two words...

Hmmm, whom shall I believe, Brian Taylor or my lying eyes?

Matt said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/-ist

NDC said...

I wonder if part of why Sullivan won't link has to do with the fact that Instapundit and Althouse are sassy and fun in a way that Sullivan used to be but isn't anymore.

Can anyone else remember a time when Sullivan addressed more than torture, religion, and homosexual legal issues?

Hell, I pine for the days when he would post pictures of the beagle or random beagle stories.

Yes, torture, religion, and homosexual marriage rights are important issues worthy of consideration, but Sullivan used to have some perspective and balance that he now lacks, but that Instapundit and Althouse seem to retain.

Dare he risk moderate readers following the link and discovering that some bloggers cover a wider range of issues and even allow comments?

Brian Taylor said...

I'm done for the day. Thanks to those who actually attempted reasoned debate, and to the others; well, there's no need to repeat myself any further.

Jim C. said...

Paco Wové said, "You realize this is fruitless, right? Appealing to Sullivan's presumptive better side won't work"

Unfortunately for Prof. A, I agree totally with this. It won't work because Sully and Greenwald they don't want to engage. They no longer have a better side. They prefer to lie and bully, like all bullies.

To put it in pop culture terms, they've given in to their hate to gain the power of the Dark Side of the Force.

I don't know of any realistic and effective defense or counter-attack.

Mack said...

Reasons to say "Christianist":

1. Distinguishing between Christians and Christianists, as Sullivan explains.
2. A term to describe people who want to impose their Christianity on others.
3. A way of saying "stop saying 'Islamists' and 'Islamofascists'; it's insulting to ordinary Muslims. See?"

I always assumed a large element of the third. As far as Pogo's, I don't think it even makes sense. This idea that lefties see moral equivalence between Muslim and Christian fanatics is a total invention of the right. Who in the US really tries to say that the US is no different from the Taliban? That's a comparison conservatives make, not liberals.

Mr. Snitch said...

No one reads Brian Taylor's blog, so here (and here and here and here...) he is, a noxious mixture of condecension and self-congratulation. It's too bad that we don't have a software option allowing us to selectively ignore certain commenters, like an AOL chat room does.

Joe Baby said...

Do a search for American Taliban on the google. John Lindh is now a fraction of the hits for that search term.

chickenlittle said...

Mackan said:

"I always assumed a large element of the third."


You assumed wrongly. Years ago, Sullivan embraced and used the term "islamofascist" with the same enthusiasm he now lavishes on christianist. I don't think your point 3 ever crossed his mind.

Harkonnendog said...

"3. A way of saying "stop saying 'Islamists' and 'Islamofascists'; it's insulting to ordinary Muslims. See?"

This would make good sense if there were no Islamists nor any Islamofascists, or if they were such tiny minorities that it was wrong to pretend they were worth being termed.

Or if 9/11 didn't happen. Or if Islamists and Islamofascists weren't murdering thousands of ordinary Muslims in Iraq every year.

Mack said...

Revenant,

Your suggestion that the reason for a law doesn't matter is ridiculous. Of course it matters. And no, it's not the right that matters.

Take the right to live. Important right, yes? But not absolute, is it? For instance, let's say someone's about to shoot you. I think you'll agree you're entitled to shoot first. So how about if you shoot somebody just because they smell funny? Or if you shoot them because that's what your religion tells you? Isn't that a problem?

I'm not saying people can't vote based on their moral values. What I'm saying is that there's a reason people who want to outlaw sodomy are a-holes: they're so self-obsessed they don't realize that their personal religious faith is a terrible reason to tell other people what they can or can't do. Unfortunately, that's the kind of thing your average right-winger doesn't even consider.

Revenant said...

I think you're overstating Sullivan's antipathy toward Christians (he still adamantly identifies as a Catholic)

He can "identify" as whatever he likes. He's about as much of a Catholic as he is a heterosexual. In the sense that Sullivan tends to define "Christian" as "religious person who agrees with Andrew Sullivan" then yes, obviously Andrew's not anti-Christian. Its those Christians who actually follow centuries-old Christian principles that drive him nuts. They drive me nuts, too, but I at least have the decency not to pretend that I'm Christian and they aren't. The Bible is quite viciously anti-gay, and that's a simple fact.

Anonymous said...

The literal definition pf christianist is fine as far as it goes. The issue is Sullivan's use of the label. For example a conservative catholic group pays for billboards in tulsa that claim "BIRTHCONTROL IS HARMFUL", and Sullivan labels it christianist. Perhaps the claim is unconvincing, false, or even ridiculous. But christianist? It doesn't look like "trying to bully their way around the political world (Sullivan's latest description of the term)" to me. It is examples like this that lead me to conclude that the label "christianist" is in practice a catch-all perjorative for a christian that publically supports a socially conservative position.

Jacob said...

I thought axises (axes?) come in threes? So who's the third member of the Althouse-Reynolds Axis?

Can anyone else remember a time when Sullivan addressed more than torture, religion, and homosexual legal issues?
What about his worst '80's video thing?

"CC" said...

Mackan said...

This idea that lefties see moral equivalence between Muslim and Christian fanatics is a total invention of the right. Who in the US really tries to say that the US is no different from the Taliban?


I live in San Francisco, the heart of contemporary liberalism and the seat of the Democratic Party, and I literally here similar words, spoken with all seriousness... EVERY DAY.

And people wonder why I won't talk politics with the folks at work...

Revenant said...

1. Distinguishing between Christians and Christianists

Because just using the terms "Christians I agree with" and "Christians I disagree with" would be (a) entirely too honest and (b) less rhetorically useful.

2. A term to describe people who want to impose their Christianity on others.

People like Andrew Sullivan, then? He's on record as saying his form of "Christianity" teaches acceptance of loving homosexual marriages, and he's most certainly trying to force *that* on the American public.

Of course, then we run into a conflict with (1), which is that "Christianist" is defined as "Christian Andrew Sullivan disagrees with on religious matters" -- for Sullivan himself to be one is definitionally impossible.

3. A way of saying "stop saying 'Islamists' and 'Islamofascists'; it's insulting to ordinary Muslims. See?"

Er, so Sullivan is deliberately slurring Christians in order to discourage people from accidentally insulting Muslims? That's... interesting.

To think I wasted all that time criticizing those who freely use terms like "faggot" and "pederast" to refer to gay men who want their political agenda enacted as law, when all along those people might simply have been using the terms as an indirect way of saying "stop using terms offensive to Christians". The "insult X to stop Y from offending Z" strategy -- how avant-garde.

BSC said...

What does Sullivan mean by "Christianist"? I have concluded he means any conservative (of whatever variety) who does not agree with Andrew Sullivan.

And it is sad, because Sullivan is turning into a parody of a pajama clad blogger, who picks fights at the slightest pretense.

John said...

Mrs. Whatsit, thanks for your valiant efforts to remain coolly logical in defense of gay marriage in the face of very strong opposition.

As a gay man myself, and as a Christian, I first have to distance myself and others who think like me from Chris' opinion about marriage being (apparently only) a Christian ritual, and that gay people marrying is just imitating this "Christian ritual" and supporting "Christian hypocrisy". To that I say, I would marry my partner because I love him and want to commit myself and my life to him, not to imitate any ritual. In my system of beliefs, that is the pinnacle of a relationship. If you don't feel like you can really commit the rest of your life to someone, by all means don't. However, society is well-served by people who DO make that commitment, and I will assert that society also benefits when that commitment is made between two people of the same sex.

I would also like to respond to those who opine that marriage is about procreation (i.e., actually physically producing children). I believe that that is a mere assertion, and I would beg to differ. Producing children is indeed a laudable goal for many reasons, which I don't think I need to expound here. However, more children could almost certainly be produced if child-bearing were not (at least nominally) restricted to marriage. If more children could conceivably (no pun intended) be produced without marriage than within it, it would follow that marriage is a hindrance to reproduction rather than the other way around. Instead, marriage is more likely the ideal situation for RAISING children, not just producing them. And if raising children is really the issue, than gay couples can (and often do) do that job as well as straight couples, and certainly much better than the government or orphanages.

However, this is not my point. Rather, I assert (and I believe my assertion is well-supported) that marriage is NOT primarily about children at all. Certainly, marriage is the ideal circumstance for raising children, but I will assert that marriage is primarily for the benefit of the married couple.

I get my evidence for this from several sources. First of all is my father. He used to tell us in no uncertain terms that in a marriage, the spouse is to come first, even above the children. Perhaps people will be repulsed by this, but I believe it is true. Certainly, the parents must love and give care to the children, even to the point of giving their lives, but the one they must love and cherish the most is the other spouse.

Second, in the Bible it says in the creation story that among the animals, no suitable partner was found for Adam. God recognized that it was not good for Adam to be alone, so God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, removed one of his ribs, closed the place with flesh, and made a woman from the rib and brought her to Adam as a suitable partner. Many people will, of course, say "Ah HA! It's a man and a woman, see?" Not so fast. I believe the importance was that 1) Adam should not be alone, but with a suitable partner, and 2) although their partnership included the plan of producing children (Eve was, after all, to become "the mother of all the living"), it was primarily about the companionship, intimacy, and support that they would provide each other.

Third, Jesus said that a man would leave his father and mother, and unite with his wife, and the two would become one flesh. (Again, you don't need to quote "man and woman!" to me, I get it). The point of the marriage is, again, companionship, intimacy, and mutual support. The two become one, not the two become four or five.

(Incidentally, I believe Jesus talked of a man and a woman uniting because to say anything else wouldn't have made any sense to anyone. That doesn't mean, however, that a man and another man cannot unite themselves).

Finally, it's worth noting that gay people are also citizens of this nation, and that we would receive demonstrably great good from being allowed to marry, while there would be no perceivable detrimental effect to straight married couples or government function from the same. On the other hand, for those of you who seem to think that polygamy is part and parcel of gay marriage, there are HUGE detrimental effects to be seen from polygamy, including subjugation of women, legal inequality, potential physical abuse of children, etc. I could flesh out those detriments if you'd like, but I've written more than enough already. I hope I have made a clear argument as to why I think my assertions are correct, and I appreciate all of those who disagree cordially. Civil dialog is extremely important to maintain in these times. God bless!

Kirk Parker said...

Wade,

"everybody agrees that murder is wrong"

Well, only if you define "everbody" as "the segment of humanity that excludes Professer Singer".

chickenlittle said...

I'm sorry John, I know you meant well but your whole lament about decoupling childbearing and child-rearing gave me a shiver- it sounds too much like "Rosemary's Baby"!

chickenlittle said...

John:

Why quote the Bible verse at in your third point? You keep one part that you like "the two become one" but then reject the other part, "unite with his wife, and the two would become one flesh" as just symbolic? Better to not use the verses at all I think.

Knemon said...

"I would suggest it's sexism"

Prof., you've got to stop crying wolf like this.

Sullivan isn't linking to you because he's a discourteous jerk, not because you're a woman.

John said...

Chickenlittle (cute name, by the way... I always think of that young chick character in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoon with the big glasses),

Sorry, I didn't mean to give you visions of horror movies! I certainly don't mean to imply that I think bearing children out of wedlock is ideal, or even at all desirable. I just meant to say that I think there would be more children if people just slept around willy-nilly (which, of course, they already do to some extent, but with the exception that most of them DON'T want to bring children into the world). However, marriage provides a framework for both producing and raising children in the most healthy and stable environment. In this regard, I stand with the most entrenched traditionalist.

However, for children that have already been produced, I think that a same-sex marriage would be comparable, if not equal, to an opposite-sex marriage as far as actually raising them. There are certainly many children in need of adoption who will never have the chance to know a family. Isn't being raised by two people (same sex or not) who have enough love to go through the incredible hassles of the adoption process better than being raised by the state? Many kids don't have the option of choosing an opposite-sex pair of parents, especially if they have developmental problems caused by a drug-using mother. Many gay couples will adopt kids that no one else wants, even teenagers that have virtually no hope of ever having their own family.

Sorry, I'll take a breath now.

As far as quoting Jesus in my third argument, I didn't mean to imply I would discard or discount the fact that Jesus specifically mentions a man joining with a woman. I just don't think that it's necessarily exclusive of a man joining another man that he loves. I think that Jesus was just using the obvious example, probably the only example available at that time.

Chickenlittle, thanks for responding in a measured and respectful way... unfortunately, too many commentors on Ms. Althouse's fascinating blog snipe at each other instead of trying to communicate to each other. My hat's off to you! God bless!

Knemon said...

"It says quite a lot about Sullivan and his ilk that they've managed to get a person like me -- who deeply loathes Christian fundamentalism and supports gay marriage -- to actually defend fundamentalist Christians against unfair smears by gay marriage supporters."

Ditto, ditto, a thousand times ditto.

Apparently, we are either with Sulliwald, or we are with the Christianists.

Knemon said...

"a Christian state (you know, one where christian mores are enshrined in law?"

Like Ireland? Guatemala? Nicaragua? The US in previous decades?

downtownlad said...

Sullivan keeps contradicting himself, because he actually believes in Jesus.

How silly.

Christianity is just a hateful religion that teaches people to kill gays, that promotes slavery, and is unabashedly in favor of racial segregation. It also favors the death penalty for a whole slew of silly reasons (disrespecting your parents, etc.).

People can choose to ignore those parts of the Bible, but it's still there, if they'd actually bother to READ what's in the Bible.

Simply put - it's barbaric. And in this day and age, you really have to be pretty closed-minded to believe this garbage.

And Sullivan should be rightly critized for believing in a religion that calls for him to be executed because he's gay.

Mack said...

Revenant,

Islamist does not mean terrorist. It's a much broader term. When conservatives talk about Islamists, it means any Muslim who wants the world to be a Muslim theocracy. They don't have to be violent. That's just not true.

If Islamist is the new word for "Muslim terrorist-supporter", then it's a much greater slur against Islam than it pretends to be.

Mack said...

I live in San Francisco, the heart of contemporary liberalism and the seat of the Democratic Party, and I literally here similar words, spoken with all seriousness... EVERY DAY.

With all respect, I don't believe you. First, San Fransisco isn't the heart of anything except itself. Second, lefties often exagerate America's sins; that doesn't mean they can't tell the difference between the U.S. and Afghanistan. I guarantee you that every one of them knows the difference between the U.S. and Afghanistan. The reason they blur the difference is that conservatives so often pretend that we're not even of the same species.

In any case, I see no reason to doubt Sullivan's explanation. The idea that he suddenly sees no difference between Tom Delay and Muslim terrorists is ridiculous, based on his prior writings. I think his frustration with the Christian fundamentalist branch of the Republican party has grown, and he's found a word to describe them that forces the issue. In that light, I guess it's not surprising that they'd balk.

Derek Kite said...

If a christian who wants to have his beliefs reflected in public policy is a 'christianist', what does one call the muslims in Canada that the current Prime Minister (who among his supporters are the evangelical christian voters) courted during the last election due to their opposition to the same-sex marriage laws?

And who are the parents of a child in a same-sex marriage? Do children have the right to know who their biological parents are? There is a case currently being decided where a lesbian couple had one partner impregnated somehow, and want three names on the birth certificate. In that jurisdiction there is no such thing before the law as a father or mother. Marriage isn't necessarily about children, but children always are affected by the legal or social arrangements where they are raised.

Consenting adults can do whatever they like to each other. Children aren't in a position to choose, so when we re-engineer social constructs, we primarily affect children. That has been the case any time families were redefined. The results of the experiment always took a generation or two. And the experiments were always well meaning.

Derek

Brian Taylor said...

Mr. Snitch:

Don't worry, you won't need such a software feature; I don't plan on returning here any time soon. I thought (incorrectly) that maybe a blog like this might actually have room for honest debate.

As far as your critique goes, however, can you point out any time here where I've been "self-congratulatory?" My own comment about the fact that nobody reads my blog was as far from self-aggrandizing as it gets; I've never promoted it and I wouldn't even have indirectly linked to it if Ann didn't require a Blogger account to post here. I would have gladly used a pseudo-anonymous handle like I do elsewhere.

Condescension is largely in the eye of the beholder, but I don't think I was ever "self-congratulatory."

Alpha Liberal said...

Geez, I surf other sites and keep coming across this dumb debate.

Ann ignores the point that Glen Greenwald made that the Christianists dominate the Republcian Party. She completely ignores it, or doesn't mind a bit.

Her big concern is "equivalence" between Islamists and Christianists. She elaborates no further on this, and leaves it really vague. Hence, her arguments lack substance. Is she accusing Greenwald and Sullivan of saying the two are identical?

Actually, Althouse is concerned primarily about -- Althouse. She ignores the political debate to complain that she's not being described as she would describe herself. Cruel world where people reach different conclusion based on reading your writings!

I think a big part of the explanation for Ann's hostility towards Greenwald lies here:
http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/08/ann-althouse-nyt-legal-expert-on-case.html

Knemon said...

"With all respect, I don't believe you."

I do. I lived in Berkeley for 4 years, and it was much the same.

The impulse starts from a good place (wanting to clean up your own house before you start messing with other people's), but it leads to relativism, which itself tends to nihilism.

*

"People can choose to ignore those parts of the Bible, but it's still there, if they'd actually bother to READ what's in the Bible."

It's not about "ignoring those parts of the Bible." Much of the New Testament is about this very issue - where the Old Law was insufficient or just plain wrong, and how Law must be replaced by Love.

I'm not a Christian, because I don't, at the end of the day, believe what they believe about the Resurrection. But to say that Christianity is "barbaric" and "promotes slavery" is ridiculous.

I understand that you're pissed at "Christianists," dowtownlad, and if I were you I probably would be too. But your hurt has turned to hate, and you sound as ignorant as they do.

Joe Baby said...

There is a case currently being decided where a lesbian couple had one partner impregnated somehow, and want three names on the birth certificate.

Is gay marriage the gateway drug to polygamy?

And does "Big Love" help or hurt the move towards gay marriage?

Anonymous said...

Andrews interests these days range to christianist underwear. He has yet to explain the political significance and defends this morbid interest by saying, in effect, that the theocons started it. As they say, 'enquiring minds want to know!'.
Why does anyone argue or discuss with someone who has so clearly lost his mind?

chickenlittle said...

I'm waiting for him to post photos on what islamist women wear under their burqas

Kirk Parker said...

"It says quite a lot about Sullivan and his ilk that they've managed to get a person like me -- who deeply loathes Christian fundamentalism and supports gay marriage -- to actually defend fundamentalist Christians against unfair smears by gay marriage supporters."

Hey wait--that means Sullivan is a uniter, not a divider!

AL:

"Ann ignores the point that Glen Greenwald made that the Christianists dominate the Republcian Party."

She probably thought (as I do) that it's too stupid to dignify with a reply. Anyone who thinks this knows nothing of either Republicans or the Religious Right.

Revenant said...

Islamist does not mean terrorist

Islamists, at a minimum, support terrorism. Some actually engage in it themselves. Sullivan knows this, because he uses the term that way himself and has for years.

If Islamist is the new word for "Muslim terrorist-supporter", then it's a much greater slur against Islam than it pretends to be.

I'm sorry that you have your head up your ass, but I'm afraid you've forgotten to explain why that's my problem.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Revenant: Your 4:59 comment is quoted on Instapundit.

Ann Althouse said...

Alpha = Glenn Greenwald? You sure link to him/yourself a lot. You've repeatedly misstated what I've written, a la GG. Apparently, you just read what he writes and believe it. I won't accept that standard here. Improve or face deletion.

Anonymous said...

{sigh}

I guess I should try again. My view on allowing gay marriage is that I'm opposed because ...

Marriage as an institution, worldwide, is exclusively reserved for heterosexual couples because heterosexual sex is the only way a new human being is conceived and brought into this world. Marriage is about procreation and not some great conspiracy to persecute gay people.

The fact is that support for gay marriage is a tacit acceptance of the belief that children are no longer, or have never been, relevant to the institution of marriage. After you've accepted that premise, then I agree; there is no rational reason to prevent gay people from getting married.

There would also be no rational reason to deny a father and his adult daughter, a brother and sister, a mother and her adult son, etc. a marriage license.

Of course, this is not an argument I expect gay marriage advocates to even attempt to come to grips with.

Anonymous said...

PS: I am NOT saying that anyone here, gay marriage opponent supporter or not, is actually in favor of incestuous marriage.

I'm saying that if Will wanted to marry his sister Gretchen, and you're a gay marriage supporter, there's no logical way you can tell Will that he does not have the right to demand that the State issue he and Gretchen a marriage license while saying Jack and Jake do have the right to do just that.

MrsWhatsit said...

Martin, that line-drawing argument gets raised whenever anybody tries to move the place where a law draws a line. Yes, theoretically, if a line can be moved "here," then it could also be moved "there." But that has nothing to do with whether it WILL be moved "there," nor is it relevant to whether the line should be moved to "here."

My state recently lowered the blood-alcohol concentration required for a drunk driving conviction from 1.0 to .08. The fact that the BAC could be lowered at all means that it also could have been lowered to .06 or .04 or .00. Does that mean that it will be? Or does that mean that it should not have been moved at all? Of course not.

Where a legislative line gets drawn depends on many factors, but one of the most significant is the will of the voters. The reason that there is pressure right now to change the place where the marriage line is drawn to include gay people is that many people are asking for the change. If, someday, we get a large block of voters asking for a change in marriage laws to permit incest, that's when we'll have to discuss that issue. But honestly, do you think it's likely to occur? I'd say that voters asking for a change in the BAC level to .00, though quite unlikely, is considerably more probable than your Scary Scenario.

When you talk about changing a law, an opponent can always postulate some terrifying possibility that might result from stretching the change even farther. (If you are old enough, you may remember the alarmist doomsayers predicting that if the ERA passed, we would all have to use unisex restrooms in public places.) That's just fear tactics. They work quite well, unfortunately, because people are easy to scare. But they are not actually relevant to the discussion.

MrsWhatsit said...

Brian said, "Social security is an independent benefit with no relation to marital status at all."

Well, as it's administered, it is related to marital status. Spouses can get payments after the death of spouses. So, on a logical level, government entitlements could work as the water in the green lawn metaphor.

But I agree with Brian that a reluctance to increase government entitlements related to marriage probably doesn't have much to do with society's present reluctance to embrace gay marriage. That might be one of the reasons that not all of the "grass" is getting watered, but I suspect that there are other reasons for conserving the "water" that none of us, so far, have been able to articulate.

The problem with the model in which some of the seed can't germinate is that it doesn't apply to gay households, in which plenty of already-germinated seed is being raised right now. And, although they must necessarily conceive children outside of the traditional model of marriage, gay people are not sterile.

anselm said...

anon2:

examples like this that lead me to conclude that the label "christianist" is in practice a catch-all perjorative for a christian that publically supports a socially conservative position.

I agree that at least it's likely that "Christianist" (should the term survive past the end of the week) is/will be (a) cast mostly in a pejorative context and (b) will be used more broadly than its current definition - that is, it will be wielded by certain individuals against all Christians with socially conservative views.

Within the larger political melee, however, I think this is normal, and not the kind of conflation that will turn our sense of justice on our ear. A devolution of language to be sure, but no more than all of the mudslinging that goes on in these (justifiably) heated debates, e.g. "You think pharmacists can refuse to sell birth control, you're just another Christianist, nyah nyah nyah!"

However, the conflation you identify is of a different stripe than the "equivalence" that Prof. Althouse and others are claiming. They say "Christianist" is an attempt to brand socially conservative Christians as terrorists (i.e. supporters, at least, of political change through violence). Terrorists. Even given your concerns about the term, does that make sense to you?

Keep in mind that no evidence has been presented that "Christianist" includes violence within its definition, and that the coiners of the term have explicitly disavowed this connection. From what I can gather, Exhibit A is that both Christianist and Islamist end with "-ist". There is no Exhibit B.

To start with, "Islamist" on its own did not include within its definition an element of violence. I'm not blind to the real-world connotation, but there is a difference between a definition and an inference. A peaceful Islamist was not, until Althouse declared otherwise, necessarily an oxymoron.

How could the hypocrisy be more evident? To legitimize their complaints, Althouse and Co. must show (a) that all Islamists are necessarily violent. As commenter Pogo puts it: An "Islamist" simply wants to impose sharia law on the world through violent coercion, and it is moronic and dishonest of a certain liberal blogger not to define it as such. Then, (b), they complain that Christianist is intended to paint law-abiding Christians as violent with an unfairly broad and insidious brush!

Again: how could the hypocrisy be more evident?

Your concern that Christianist is a term used mostly by those who want to keep morals particular to Christianity out of the law is one thing - true, but at least the Christian-derogators are up front about their positions. But the loading of the term with violent connotations, when it refers to a real and primarily non-violent phenomenon/political bloc, just to drown it in the bathtub, is dishonest.

anselm said...

By the way, this logical quandary leaves no out but to show that Christianity is inherently and objectively superior to Islam.

That is the argument that is now bubbling up all over the place, and which will very soon be completely out in the open.

Mack said...

If Islamist is the new word for "Muslim terrorist-supporter", then it's a much greater slur against Islam than it pretends to be.

I'm sorry that you have your head up your ass, but I'm afraid you've forgotten to explain why that's my problem.


It's your problem because you're the one arguing that people shouldn't make "unfair smears" against Christianity, you dipsh-t.

Your argument makes no sense. Sullivan has explained that he doesn't mean the word the way you're using it. But you're saying he must? He must mean that Christian fundamentalists are like terrorists, or morally equivalent? Why would Sullivan make that argument? It's an unnecessary argument, it's antithetical to his ideology, it's counterproductive, and it's not even plausible on a surface level. The man is a Christian himself.

Is·lam·ism, n.
An Islamic revivalist movement, often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life.


This is what the word Islamist means. It does not mean support of terrorism. If you want clerics running your state, then you're an Islamist. Accept it. Terrorism is not the only problem with religious fundamentalism, you know.

The more you guys say, the more I get the feeling this debate arises from an inability of many conservatives to even distinguish between Muslims and terrorists. I don't think you can project that inability onto Sullivan.

Knemon said...

"That's just fear tactics. They work quite well, unfortunately, because people are easy to scare."

It's inconvenient, but it's the truth.

Mack said...

The fact is that the word "Islamist" demands the word "Christianist." You can argue that Christianists are a hundred times better and more peaceful than Islamists, but you can't argue they're irrelevant.

anselm said...

Mackan,

They have to claim that good Christians are being rabidly maligned by the Left. It's the only way they can they turn around and paint all of the adherents of entire religion as violent lunatics, pretending that "turnabout is fair play".

What? You thought preemptive strawman war ended in 2003? No, it's just cyclical. It incubates in rhetorical form, things heat up, and soon we will be attacking again, this time on a larger scale.

To quote Ronald Reagan (out of context), "The bombing starts in five minutes."

Anonymous said...

mrswhatsit ...

Thanks for responding.

I could accept your position if it wasn't for two things.

[1] The route frequently followed by gay marriage advocates is usually through the courts and not through the legislative process. Judicial rulings are entirely different things from legislative acts. Where legislative acts can be narrowly tailored and limited, precedent setting judicial rulings like Goodridge in Massachusetts must be followed to their logical conclusion.

Currently, both the Supreme Courts in New Jersey and Massachusetts have handed down rulings on marriage that explicitly deny any linkage between marriage and procreation - in the New Jersey case, I believe the Court said that it saw no reason to grapple with that issue as the State refused to press on it.

So, if a brother and sister couple, went up to Massachusetts and demanded a marriage license, under the precedent set by Goodridge can they legally be denied it? Remember that since children are explicitly decoupled from the institution of marriage in Massachusetts, the increased likelihood of their offspring being genetically compromised is no reason to deny it to them.

[2] In response to your point about there being no large number of incestuous couples clamoring for State recognized marriages, you're forgetting that having the State recognize a relationship as a marriage is being treated as a civil right.

I'm sure you have noticed that many supporters of gay marriage liken opposition to it to be no different from opposing the Loving V Virginia SCOTUS ruling - a correct ruling in my view especially considering that I have been in numerous interracial relationships and some have come close to me actually proposig.

Either way, if you accept that marrying who you want - irrespective of sex - is a civil right, then you must also accept that this is independent of numbers. If Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were the only interracial couple in the entire history of the United States who wanted to get married, it still would have been unconstitutional for Virginia to deny them recognition.

Massachusetts recognizes marriage to whom you want as a civil right and procreation plays no part in that. So even if it were only one brother and sister couple that demanded a marriage license, it should make no more difference than if there were two thousand such couples.

PS: Slippery slope arguments are popular because they often very easily prove themselves true. One of the arguments against the ERA was ... that it would compel the states and the Federal Government to recognize same sex marriages! Strangely enough, it's now happening without the ERA!

Heck ... it wasn't that long ago that the spectre of same sex marriage was being decried as a "fear tactic" and that it was an impossibility. Guess what? It's here!

Once again, thanks again for responding and doing so civilly.

MrsWhatsit said...

Martin, I agree that recognition of gay marriage as a civil right raises different issues than recognizing it because a legislature decides to do so. Personally, I think that change, if and when it comes, ought to be legislative rather than judicial because of the difficulty society often has in living with rights that get discovered by the judiciary without legislative involvement -- see the abortion situation as just one example.

But I don't agree that recognizing a civil right to gay marriage would necessarily require recognizing a civil right to incestuous marriage. If that were so, then recognition of the civil right to interracial marriage should also have required recognizing a right to gay and/or incestuous marriage, since it moved the line away from the traditional definition of marriage. Also, the change in the definition of marriage from the old one-person concept (the man survived marriage as a legal being while the woman did not -- a married woman was a legal nonentity) to our current model in which both married spouses retain legal personhood should have set off the whole avalanche to a no-holds-barred model. It did not.

Even after lines are moved, lines can still be drawn. Moving them is not necessarily erasing them, even though sometimes society moves the lines again later on.

I share your appreciative feelings about the cordiality of this whole discussion. It is great to be able to talk about these issues so civilly, and as a result I think we are having a conversation that is enlightening for all concerned. And it's interesting that this discussion has managed to remain civil, while the other one going on in this same thread has, um, not.

Anonymous said...

Since Sullivan dissents from the beliefs of the so-called "christianists", I think we could coin a new tern for him: "anti-christianist" Or, for economy, we could just shorten it to "antichrist". But I think that term may already be in use - I'll have to go see if the existing definition fits.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with your premise here; "... recognition of the civil right to interracial marriage should also have required recognizing a right to gay and/or incestuous marriage, since it moved the line away from the traditional definition of marriage."

The recognition of interracial marriage did not alter by an iota the basic definition of marriage or in any way negate the institution of marriage's raison d'etre - providing a mechanism by which a man is tied to his offspring and the mother of his offspring in order to provide the best environment for the upbringing of the next generation.

Remember that marriage is a universal institution. People married in Europe, Africa, South America who immigrate were recognized as married in America even in the 1950s - including marriages between men and women of different races.

In other words there really is no continuum/slippery slope between allowing two people of different races to get married and allowing two people of the same sex to get married. Sex is not race and race is not sex. It's like comparing apples to airplanes.

If there was, that argument would have been made at the time Loving v. Virginia was decided. In fact, the primary reason why anti-miscegenation laws were instituted was to prevent the birth of children of mixed race; hence why they were called "anti-miscegenation". So, in fact, the people back then recognized that interracial marriages would produce children.

Can we say the same of same sex marriages? Can they produce children? So what possible reason could I be led to think that I, as a black man, marrying a woman of Indian descent would damage the strength of the traditional family - which has always been Dad, Mom and children?

I think it's nothing more than historical revisionism for gay marriage advocates to assert that the definition of a traditional family historically mandated that the married couple be of the same race. That is not true in any part of the world.

Even in America, we have so many stories of white men from centuries ago marrying Native American women and having their marriages recognized the nation over that that theory is shot full of holes before it even wears its shoes to run around the country.

Same sex marriage (practiced nowhere on Earth past or present) completely decouples children from the institution of marriage while interracial marriage (happened regularly and quite often throughout history) does nothing of the sort.

The fact is that if children are no longer relevant at all to the institution of marriage then there is absolutely no reason to deny a father and his adult daughter a marriage license, whether or not they intend to have a sexual relationship.

Regards.

MrsWhatsit said...

"The fact is that if children are no longer relevant at all to the institution of marriage then there is absolutely no reason to deny a father and his adult daughter a marriage license, whether or not they intend to have a sexual relationship."

It's possible that we are at that point already, regardless of what happens with gay marriage. Evidence abounds that children are already no longer relevant at all to the institution of marriage, or at least far, far less relevant than perhaps they once were. But I still think we will do better to discuss whether society is ready to issue marriage licenses to fathers and daughters when a father and daughter apply for one, rather than trying to stretch the question of same-sex marriage to cover that possibility, too.

The issues are quite different.
After all, a father and daughter are arguably closer to the traditional model of marriage than a same-sex couple since they CAN procreate, whether or not they should. (And do already, well outside of marriage, of course, more often than we might like to think.)

As for your belief that it is not true anywhere in the world that the traditional marriage model has ever mandated that both marriage partners must be of the same race, my historical knowledge isn't up to the challenge of responding with any certainty -- but I think many, many places have probably assumed that restriction whether or not they expressly articulated it. Look into what happens to the children who result from interracial liaisons in, say, Korea. I don't know whether or not the legitimacy of such children plays a role in how they are treated or whether it is entirely race-based, but in any case it isn't pretty.

submandave said...

MrsWhatsit: "I don't disagree that the primary purpose of marriage has traditionally been the protection of children. The problem is that I see no logical connection between serving that purpose and excluding homosexuals from marriage."

With the wide-spread acceptance of easy and convenient birth control the act of sex has, societally, largely been decoupled from the process of procreation. The perceived meaning of "sex" has changed more from "making babies" to just "fun". So, too, over time has the idea of marriage been changed from "forming a new family" to "a personal expression of our love". Institution of same-sex marriage would, in my opinion, undoubtedly serve to further decouple the act of procreation from the idea of marriage, since we would be conveying the same title and societal status upon numerous couples that are, for the most part, biologically incapable of procreation. Traditional marriage carries the prospect of responsibility, great responsibility, not only towards the spouse but, more importantly, towards the children that result from the marriage. I can't see how establishing a standard for marriage that lacks that expectation of responsibilty can do anything but diminish the societal expectations of all marriages.

I see, societally, the effect of same-sex marriage to be similar to the effects of expanded no-fault divorce. I, personally, don't care if a couple want to split, but once there are children involved the repercussions of divorce extend beyond husband and wife, and, therefore, should be more critically examined. The ease with which marriage can be abandoned has contributed to people not fully appreciating their responsibilities to the children resulting from the marriage. So, too, would same-sex marriage.

"Well, as it's administered, [Social Security] related to marital status. Spouses can get payments after the death of spouses."

Yet another good argument against SS and for private accounts, that are fully willable and surviving, wouldn't you say?

MrsWhatsit said...

"Yet another good argument against SS and for private accounts, that are fully willable and surviving, wouldn't you say?"

Yes, I would.

As for the argument that same-sex marriage might further weaken the already-weakened sense of responsibility that married parents feel toward their children, I agree that no-fault divorce caused plenty of harm in that department. I am not sure whether same-sex marriage would make things even worse, though. At least as I envision same-sex marriage, it would impose obligations on gay people who have committed to raise children that such parents do not presently bear unless there is a biological or legal adoptive relationship, such as child support, custody, or visitation. Maybe inheritance, too. So I see gay marriage as tending to expand rather than shrink the pool of legally-responsible parents. Unlike no-fault divorce, gay marriage is a question of whether to let people INTO the responsibilities of marriage, not whether to let them OUT of them.

But what would actually happen to the institution of marriage as a whole in society if gay marriage were to become universal is anybody's guess, and your guess is certainly as good as mine.

Knemon said...

"It's the only way they can they turn around and paint all of the adherents of entire religion as violent lunatics"

Who "they?"

anselm said...

knemon:

Whoever's doing the painting! It's all over this thread (see my earlier quote of Pogo) and all over the conservative blogosphere. The thinking is that Muslims are basically Islamists (a distinction is implied but barely acknowledged other than as collateral damage in the great ideological struggle of our times), and all Islamists are violent.

All acknowledgment of common humanity is derided as tolerance, and tolerance is derided as a throwback to the pre-9/11 days.

So, thank you Osama and your merry band of maniacs, thank you Ayatollahs, for the carte blanche that we will soon grant ourselves to bomb your societies out of existence.

Revenant said...

The fact is that the word "Islamist" demands the word "Christianist."

And if you want to use the word "Christianist" the way "Islamist" is used -- to label people who support violence and murder in order to force their faith upon the rest of the world -- then be my guest.

There are at least a few dozen Christians who fit that label. :)

Alpha Liberal said...

Ann Althouse said:
I'm not a Democrat either, because of the Democratic Party's weakness on national security.

However, she does not back this up with examples. But we have a dangerous number of examples of how the Republicans have made the county weaker and less safe.

1) They've saddled the military with an Iraqi Civil War.
2) they eroded the nation's moral authority by invading and occupying a country that did not attack us nor pose an imminent threat.
3) Now, they are allowing the Taliban to take over:

"Senior Pakistani officials are urging Nato countries to accept the Taliban and work towards a new coalition government in Kabul that might exclude the Afghan president Hamid Karzai."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/29/wafghan29.xml

Althouse gives a perfect example of lazy thinking and simply following the conventional wisdom where bombing other countries and spending more on the military mean "strength."

There is more to national strength than a willingness to bomb other countries. Bush has left us weaker and more endangered.

Harkonnendog said...

"The fact is that the word "Islamist" demands the word "Christianist." You can argue that Christianists are a hundred times better and more peaceful than Islamists, but you can't argue they're irrelevant."

Sure you can. There are no Christianic theocracies, while there are a whole bunch of Islamic ones. There is no impulse in modern Christianity towards creating new Christian theocracies, while there is a well funded and violent worldwide movement whose goal is creating a worldwide Islamic theocracy. There is no worldwide Christianic terrorism equivalent to Islamic terrorism.

Also, the state that champions freedom of speech and freedom of religion throughout the world has a population that's about 75% Christian, and it was founded by a bunch of Christians, and came from a culture that was primarily Christian.

Anselm,
"By the way, this logical quandary leaves no out but to show that Christianity is inherently and objectively superior to Islam"
If looking at a political map doesn't do it for you I'm not sure what will.

MrsWhatsit said...

I have spent this whole thread so far talking about logic so I guess I might as well do a little bit more of it.

Alpha Lib, you have not shown at all that Ann is wrong to believe that Democrats are weak on foreign policy. To do that, you would need to talk about Democratic foreign policy. There is not one word in your comment on that subject. Your comment demonstrates that you believe Republicans are weak on foreign policy, but that tells us nothing about Democrats, nor does it show that Ann is a "lazy thinker" -- although it may well demonstrate that you are a weak one.

Provide some specific examples of Democratic strength on foreign policy. It's not enough to say "We disagree with those blasted Republicans!" Disagreement is not a foreign policy, unless you really believe that naysaying is all it takes to make it in international relations -- and I'll bet you don't. Show us the examples of Democratic strength on foreign policy that Ann should have known about and acknowledged. Then maybe you will have made your point.

Mack said...

Harkonnendog,

Hey man, I'm thankful for the secularization of western Christianity too. If you think there aren't still people who want to go back in time, though, I think you need to get out and talk to more people.

Harkonnendog said...

"If you think there aren't still people who want to go back in time, though, I think you need to get out and talk to more people."

We'll have to agree to disagree. What can I say? "You'll have to talk to less people." Lol. Seriously though, I don't know of a single person who wants the Pope to rule America. Or any Pope-ish figure, of any version of Christianity. The idea is so alien it is actually hard to figure out a way to express it.

chickenlittle said...

mrswhatsit said:

"Provide some specific examples of Democratic strength on foreign policy. It's not enough to say "We disagree with those blasted Republicans!"

Sadly, that was the Dems mantra last election and is the reason I am still suspicious.

FYI- I voted for Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, and Gore, but I drew the line at Lurch.

I'm afraid incivility has infected us all.

Knemon said...

"There is more to national strength than a willingness to bomb other countries."

And that "more" is: __________.

The Democratic plan to make us Tough. Smart. is: ___________.

We're all ears.

Revenant said...

However, she does not back this up with examples.

Maybe she's got better things to do than restate the obvious.

Of the three sins you pin on the Bush Administration, two -- invading nonagressive, nonthreatening countries and allowing the Taliban to take control of Afghanistan -- were shared by the previous Democratic administration. The third -- the war in Iraq -- was backed by most of the Democrats in Congress and, as of the last vote on withdrawl, still was.

So even if you believe those three things weakened America, they're not something you can pin on Republicans to the exclusion of Democrats.

In addition to that, the Democrats are guilty of:

- Repeatedly cutting national defense for the past few decades
- Falsely accusing the US military of being ignorant, uneducated war criminals
- Failing to offer any constructive criticism or suggestions for the conduct of the war on terrorism, and
- Supporting declarations of war and opposing the effective conduct of that war (e.g. Iraq)

Mack said...

Revenant,

Where do you get this stuff? The Democratic position has been that Iraq has been a diversion from the real goal of rooting out Al Qaeda. Note that it wasn't Iraq, but Al Qaeda that actually attacked us on 9/11. What other propositions do you want? At most, the single difference between the Democrats' and Republicans' response to 9/11 has been whether or not we should have invaded Iraq. That's it. I don't have a strong opinion on that, but it seems to me that if you want to talk about how much better the Republican approach is, you have to talk about how great that's gone.

Cutting defense in the last several decades? Umm, 6 years ago George Bush was making fun of nation building, and 2 years ago Kerry was pushing for a bigger military than Bush. You're talking about decades ago? Falsely accusing war crimes? In the 1970's? Don't you think the political climate has changed a little bit?

The reason John Kerry got the Democratic nomination was because he was a decorated veteran, not because he had criticized the Vietnam war.

chickenlittle said...

Lurch served in Vietnam?

Damn, I should have voted for him!

dubiousraves said...

Ann Althouse said:

"He has huge traffic and blogs on the Time.com website. And then he posts about me. I felt I needed to respond."

... with whining.

A Hermit said...

Sullivan says "I call "ordinary religious people" Christians and call those who are "trying to bully their way around the political world" Christianists."

What part of that do you have a problem with Ms. Althouse?

This pathetic whining is rather mystifying. Amusing as hell, but mystifying...

Ann Althouse said...

A Hermit: I've already answered that question about 12 times. You only reveal that you haven't shown me the basic respect of reading and understanding what I wrote. Yet you stop by to write on my blog that you are mystified and I am pathetic? You clod.

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