Wednesday, 2/11/15

  1. What hath Haidt wrought?
  2. Did the LDS Punk the Press?
  3. Licensed to BFF
  4. Follow the Money


No narrow bigot he; — his reason’d view
Thy interests, England, ranks with thine, Peru!
France at our doors, he sees no danger nigh,
But heaves for Turkey’s woes the impartial sigh;
A steady patriot of the world alone,
The friend of every country — but his own.

(George Canning via Patrick J. Buchanan, Why Compare the Crusades to Al Qaeda?)

Buchanan’s musing suggests the answer to the question in his title:

Obama revels in reciting the sins of Christianity and the West because he does not see himself as a loyal son of the civilization Christianity produced.

He sees himself as a citizen of the world who rejects the idea that our cradle faith Christianity is superior or that our civilization is superior. For he seems to seize every opportunity to point up the sins of Christianity and the West and the contributions of other faiths and civilizations.

“[D]oes not see himself as a loyal son” evoked for me Jonathan Haidt’s contention that Conservatives are stronger on “loyalty” as a value:

The remaining three foundations—Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation—show the biggest and most consistent partisan differences. Liberals are ambivalent about these foundations at best, whereas social conservatives embrace them.

(The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion)

I don’t think it would be difficult to find people who think I’m a crypto-liberal precisely because I’m weak on the “loyalty/betrayal” foundation. I’ve been subjected to personal attacks occasionally that were premised on precisely such a thing, as when I was derisively asked what I was going to do with my 30 pieces of silver after a Conservative Christian® elected official went beyond the pale and I publicly called for resignation. Had the transgression been private, the rebuke could have been as well, but when it became public, it was quite scandalous and incurable, even by abject apology, which as I recall was not forthcoming.

Yet I consider myself conservative, albeit a bit lonely in my Eccentric Integrity® (just don’t expect to sway me very far with loyalty/betrayal arguments). Has Haidt left me and others in an indeterminate political disposition, as Foucault (reportedly) did away with the sexes and set the stage for innumerable, ineffable, genders?


Brooke P. Hunter … in her piece … “How the Mormons Punked the Press” … described the press conference as “mostly about defending Mormons’ right to discriminate.” She said “the new Mormon position is like that candy with a razor blade inside” and added

Today’s press conference took place in a twilight zone where parents are in danger of being jailed for teaching their kids about Jesus, and where believers can’t “share their views openly in the public square.” Oh, please. Show me the Mormons who have been jailed for sharing their views. There are none. And if you can point to one instance of the government preventing good Mormons from practicing their religion in their homes, we’ll eat our hat.

Hunter envisions a very narrow scope for religious liberty that largely exiles religion from the public sphere and relegates it to the privacy of one’s own home. This is because she dismisses the idea of religious liberty as religious. She decries Mormons for wanting “special privileges and special rights for churches and for religious people.” Well yes, in order to be religious liberty it has to be liberty specifically for religion and religious considerations.

Hunter’s conception of religious liberty amounts to only the protection for religious activities afforded by non-religious rights such as free speech and privacy (thus her examples of sharing views and practicing religion in one’s own home). This is not a grudging acceptance of religious liberty or even an incremental reduction in scope. It reflects the complete eradication of religious liberty as an independent concept. The fact that this attitude is so widespread, and also that it is so innocent of its own novel and radical nature, goes a long way towards vindicating the fears of religious people. If and when Hunter’s views of religious liberty are reflected in law and policy, religious liberty will cease to have any meaning at all.

(Nathaniel Givens, emphasis added) Religious freedom, or more precisely the free exercise of religion, already fare better in many situations by playing “nobody here but us free speech fans.” And we’re at particular risk, in the Obama era with former Secretary of State Clinton having echoes such things as well (e.g., rhetorically demoting freedom of religion to freedom of belief and worship), of completely eradicating religious liberty as a concept distinct from privacy and free speech.


I’ve yet to hear an actual argument from the pro-SSM side for why there is a legitimate state interest in promoting marriage between two members of the same sex. Teenagers do not get a civil license when they swear to become BFFs on Facebook. Fraternity brothers do not go to the courthouse to file their pledge to each other. Elderly sisters can share a house together and the government does not get involved in this relationship. Once again: Why should the government be sanctioning adult romantic relationships at all?

Traditionally, the state has claimed an interest in promoting marriage, because the state has an interest in protecting and nourishing children. When a man and a women get very friendly with each other, children have a tendency to result. And children are not born as protagonists of Ayn Rand novels. They need help – actually, well into their 20′s. Finally, trying to keep the biological parents is a really good way to provide this help. So the state promotes it.

Even if you don’t follow the traditionalist reasoning, at least there is some attempt at it.

(Reader DN) I know the likely response to this sort of argument: change the subject to the supposed incoherence of the traditionalist account. “If that were the state interest, then the state would test couples for fertility and not let anyone marry a post-menopausal woman!”


And where again is your argument for a legitimate state interest in promoting marriage between two members of the same sex?

It’s one of my great, incredulous disappointments that no court I can recall has even suggested a state interest in SSM, though they do deprecate the rationales for traditional marriage.


McAdams got sacked because an administration that was already salivating at the dream of breaking tenure, faculty governance, et al. so that full-time teachers could be replaced by harried, part-time, benefit-less, probably-less-than-minimum-wage-in-reality-if-not-on-paper contingent faculty saw the opportunity of, ahem, their wet dreams. They got to set precedent — which WILL be jumped on by other universities (keep an eye on the LSU and Wisconsin systems once the funding cuts go through) — while setting those who stand to lose at each other’s throats. PC gave the cover, lets them make this about homophobia, sexism, privilege, etc. — when the issue at stake is really the economic and professional future of the university. There’s a lot wrong with the tenure system. I’ll admit that even while I aspire to it. But the only alternative being proposed right now is more or less an adaptation of the for-profit model. (You know, the kind that makes bundle of money, but which the federal government admits is probably a scam. Not that they’re going to do anything about it, though.)

(How PC Helps College Budget-Cutters, wherein Rod Dreher channels a PhD candidate on Marquette’s dubious firing of a curmudgeonly tenured prof.)

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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.