Sunday 7/27/14

  1. A world full of first-week 1Ls
  2. Where does your logic lead?
  3. Excessively rational?
  4. NYT’s dehumanizing reductionism
  5. Factoids about the Faith and Family Folks
  6. Kudos to the ignorant but sincere freak
  7. When is a Speech Plagiarized?
  8. A long line of bad choices
  9. The Good Shepherd panders to his sheep


Sometimes, someone brings a pre-loaded hostile question to a speech he expects not to like. It just must be asked, as brought, even if it was tacitly answered already, I guess.

Ryan Anderson had delivered a full speech defense of traditional marriage when he fielded these two questions from the audience. Because of that, you shouldn’t assume that Anderson’s answer to the first questioner (“you have the right to marry, but from what you’re saying, it sounds like you want a union with another man instead of a marriage”) shouldn’t be heard as arbitrary dismissiveness.

Nor should his questioners be dismissed as stupid. Not unless 1Ls are all stupid. We all sat there years ago trying to learn to think like lawyers, and in the process said some really stupid-sounding things and asked really naïve questions, on the order of Anderson’s interlocutors who, whatever their shortcomings, were infinitely more polite than the odious Piers Morgan.

But aren’t they typical of the people who have come to support same-sex marriage? They have no idea how wide open same-sex marriage blows things unless there’s a limiting principle. What requires recognizing same-sex couples as married that isn’t equally applicable to threesomes and foursomes – or that doesn’t really support abolition of marriage as a distinctive institution at all?

I’ve never heard such a principle. Anderson’s first questioner in particular had trouble wrapping his head around whey there needs to be a principle. “But I want it” and “it isn’t fair,” are not principles at all. “How dare you compare X to Y?!” is even worse.


Very much along the Ryan Anderson line, Robert P. George engaging Jameson W. Doig at the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse blog. Doig, an emeritus professor at Princeton, avoids the egregious errors of Ryan Anderson’s questioners. George replies:

[T]o know whether marriage policies violate equality—whether they fail to treat like relationships alike—we must know what makes a type of bond a marriage and distinguishes marriages from other types of companionship or relationship.

… [L]et me comment on the challenge to it you present by way of the case of Ann and Ellen, who share a bed and a home and rear children together. Every word of what you say about the two women could also be said of the committed multiple-partner sexual relationship of a college chum of mine (with whom I have a valued friendship, as I do with you, despite our moral and political differences of opinion). He and his three partners have two children, now grown and seemingly well-adjusted, and they want their foursome to be recognized legally. The logic of my position says that it should not be; the logic of yours, it seems to me, says that it should be.

What is your view?

Indeed, consider a few twists on the story. Imagine elderly sisters sharing a home and caring for each other and perhaps bringing up an orphaned nephew; or nuns caring for orphaned children together. Or suppose a couple invite into their lives a third romantic partner, Jennifer. If Ann and Ellen’s partnership should be recognized as a marriage—because it is a committed domestic bond in which children are or may be present—why not these others? In all cases, consenting adults share hopes and dreams, the burdens and benefits of home life, a desire for social legitimacy for themselves and their children. Why, on your view, is it not “shading into hostility,” or unfair to their children, to deny them recognition and benefits? Or do you think it is?

There’s a lot of interesting back and forth. This George quote reply caught my eye early, but Doig presses George, too, in a way I find less persuasive. Here, here, here, here and here.


In the course of arguing “against an excessively heartless rationalism that would say that if it’s fine to eat a cow then there is, in principle, no reason why you should not eat a dog,” Michael Brendan Dougherty (inadvertently?) make the case for hate-crime sentence enhancement:

the reason we shouldn’t eat dogs is related to the same reason it is more heinous and hateful to burn a synagogue than a community center, or that it is more of a violation to burn down a man’s home than the two rental properties he owns of an equivalent dollar value. The spaces, objects, and even animals we sanctify with our respect, friendship, and time really do enter into different moral categories. It is not inherently evil to smash a picture, but it is a gesture of hatred to tear a beloved family photo.

Call me “excessively rational” if you must, but I’m still hesitant to translate this kind of heinousness into greater criminal penalties, especially in a time when people like me are marked by the neo-fascist pseudo-liberals for ruthless stamping out.

(H/T Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry)


Rod Dreher reminds me that before Josh Barro tweeted his hatred last week, Timothy Egan had already compared the Catholic Supreme Court Justices to ISIS. He then suggests (if I’m not misinterpreting) that folks like Barro and Egan are willing to become monstrous to drive out folks like him, Alan Jacobs (and me):

If I could, I would outlaw pornography. But as a conservative, I know that the process of trying to purge the world of pornography would turn people like me into monsters, and probably cause a greater evil than the one I was trying to extirpate.

The world the New York Times is trying to bring about is a world in which the only thing that matters about Christians like me is our opinion on LGBT issues. They are actively anti-religious, except for Christians (and Jews, and Muslims) who behave like good dhimmis — that is, second-class citizens who know their place and who do not challenge the social order. The Times and its reporters and writers — Barro, Egan, and all the rest — are going to continue on with their hateful and illiberal and unjust project of purifying the public square of anti-gay thoughtcrime, and all manifestation of traditional religion that offends their progressive sensibilities.

But they’re not going to do it with my money.

(Rod Dreher, emphasis added)


Other than E.J. Dionne (who at least has a Twitter account), I’m short on Faith and Family Left(ies) to follow so far.

There’s a potentially huge divide between them and the rest of the left, by the way:

The Pew Research Center recently asked, as part of its “Beyond Red vs. Blue” political typology project, whether voters agreed or disagreed that it is “necessary to believe in God to be moral.”

Among the voters called “Solid Liberals,” one of three major Democratic Party camps, only 11 percent of those polled said “yes.” People in the emerging “Next Generation Left” felt the same way, with only 7 percent affirming that statement.

However, things were radically different among the voters that Pew researchers labeled the “Faith and Family Left.” In this crowd — the survey’s most racially and ethnically diverse camp — an stunning 91 percent of those polled saw a connection between morality and belief in God.

(Terry Mattingly) Wow! I’m not sure you’d match that in many “conservative” groups – especially with Ayn Rand acolytes in liberrarian-leaning groups. More summary from Mattingly’s piece:

Asked if American society is “better off if people prioritize marriage and having children,” 64 percent of Faith and Family Left voters agreed. However, 77 percent of Solid Liberals and 72 percent of the Next Generation Left disagreed with that statement.

… A slim majority of Faith and Family Left voters opposed gay marriage, compared with only 7 percent of the Solid Liberals. The same sharp divide existed on abortion.

From the description of these folks, I’m picturing people who held their noses in voting for Obama, especially in 2012, as I held mine to vote for McCain in 2008 (since Indiana was “in play” and actually went to Obama in the end). They’ll never be co-opted into the old Religious Right, but there may be some new coalitions coming, and with them either some major changes in major parties or new party that can command the (reluctant) assent of some disaffected or ex-Republicans like me along with our Democrat counterparts. We just need to give proper priority to the social issues on which we agree, which are emerging as the defining issues of the day.


An interesting prediction from Terry Mattingly on the Get Religion podcast: There is going to be some crazy scrambling and rationalizing by major media when Pope Francis, as is sure to happen, makes some clear and unequivocal repudiation of Sexual Liberationism.


Catholic Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry thanks a Dugger daughter’s boyfriend, not for taking down his “anti-Catholic rant,” but for taking religious truth seriously enough to have put it up in the first place.

I’m with Gobry: there was nothing morally wrong or odious for the lad expressing his ignorant but sincere error.

Far worse is the Daily Mail’s incredulity about Quiverfull’s courtship approach, which is far more wholesome than – well, the kind of insularity that assumes boys and girls will hump like bunnies and can’t wrap its mind around an alternative.


My blog is full of quotes and citations. I, like most people (I suspect), utter few entirely original thoughts. The closer I come to “entirely original,” the likelier the reader is to say “what the heck is he talking about?” unless I’ve spent a lot of time honing how I say it. When passing along received truth, I try to say that well, too, and that often involves quotations.

But I mostly write. What if I was a public speaker? A listener, unlike a reader, cannot skip over a citation of source. So I have some doubts about fining a school superintendent for borrowing a few lines after student journalists play “gotcha!” with his speech:

The lifted phrases, which you can see in full here, include this one:

Fleishman had said: “Lastly, personal connection, the nuance of empathy and understanding, is often more incremental and complex than Twitter.”
Patrick had said: “Real human connection, the nuance of empathy and understanding, is often more gradual and elongated than Twitter.”

Close call. Maybe because it was a “lastly,” quick attribution would have been easy. Maybe the school district disciplined students for plagiarism. But it seems to me like it was sop to some young smartasses.

And I preferred the Governor’s version of this kind-of-banal point anyway.


“He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” … Prosperity and success are not measures of the Christian life; they are the sound of cheerleaders in the economic market of competition. In no case are they the required hallmarks of justice, mercy and humility.

I’m the son of a man who made poor choices. He was the son of a man who made poor choices. Indeed, I come from a long line of poor choices. I can’t think of a single individual among those I most admire who fits the American description of success and prosperity.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman)


Things Jesus Never Said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd affirms his sheep wherever they may wander.”

Good Shepherd

Unfortunately, not the Onion.


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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.