Wednesday, 7/8/15

  1. Why is anti-discrimination now high trump?
  2. The allure of Islam
  3. Sympathy for the young lout
  4. We owe the Reformation for ISIS


I have heard a very prominent religious conservative argue that religious freedom should protect the right of someone to not photograph a gay marriage because of religious objections to such a marriage, but should not protect the right of someone to not photograph an interracial marriage because of religious objections. This individual may have a coherent reason for believing that, but if so it wasn’t apparent from his remarks, beyond the possibility that he thinks it would be politically infeasible to defend the latter.

So here’s my suggestion: instead of exempting antidiscrimination laws from state RFRAs, instead write into the laws a provision that the compelling interest test should be applied with the same rigor regardless of which group an antidiscrimination law protects. Therefore, a photographer should have the same right, but only the same right, to refuse on religious grounds to photograph a gay wedding as an interracial wedding, or a wedding between a Jew and a Gentile, or whatever.

If RFRA advocates aren’t willing to defend the right of someone who believes that interracial or interreligious marriages are against God’s will to refuse to participate in such weddings, then they don’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to gay marriage. But the better position is to allow exemptions in all those situations.

And the even better position is to not require people to provide non-essential services outside of public accommodations to anyone they choose to not do business with, for any reason. (And indeed, such rules are often the product of creative judicial interpretations of laws banning discrimination in “places of public accommodation,” not legislative action.)

(Prof. David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, emphasis added)

I agree approximately 100%. The business that won’t do business with this type or that type of person – or in contemporary context, make a custom creation for this type or that type of event – will be rare and, in my view, tolerable partly for its rarity.

With non-essential services that are not traditional public accommodations (as lodging, dining are), why should anti-discrimination automatically trump every other principle (or even over mere cantankerousness)? How did we get to a point where we reflexively assume that it should prevail, and where even the ACLU has turned against most civil liberties in pursuit of nondiscrimination?

Is it because we assume that those discriminated against will collapse into a thousand pieces of psychic debris:

The argument in favour of gay marriage is based on therapy. It is based on an approach that seeks to reorder public policy in line with the subjective desires of individuals. This approach is profound because it talks a language alien to traditional public-policy formation.

The modern therapeutic discourse has three key features: it focuses on personal want; it sees individuals as vulnerable; and it is underpinned by emotional appeals. All of these features are at the forefront of the Supreme Court ruling.

As Justice Scalia observed in his dissent, the opinion of the majority “is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic”. And then he noted that while the “world does not expect logic and precision in poetry or inspirational pop-philosophy, it demands them in the law”. With that sentence, Scalia captured the essence of the therapeutic discourse: it is, like poetry, premised on an appeal to the heart – logic and reason mean little.

When President Obama lauded the gay-marriage judgement as “a victory for America”, his most telling comment was to declare that this “decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts”. He recognised that public policy on marriage is today being directed by emotion.

… The personal wants of a section of the community should never shape a policy that concerns the entire public. Nor should public policy be fashioned in favour of individuals who are able to claim a vulnerability. Such an approach rewards those who can claim to be vulnerable. And, when policy is shaped in this direction, it encourages individuals to look for and play up a vulnerability. Just as a policy that pays people to be poor will always create poverty, so a policy that recognises vulnerability will always create victims.

(Jon Holbrook)


Q: In your book ‘‘The Enemy at Home,’’ you suggest that liberal attitudes about divorce and adultery helped to invite the Sept. 11 attacks. Have your own extramarital relationship and divorce changed your opinion in any way?

A: My own marital woes and divorce and ill-fated engagement, all of that, have certainly made me more aware of how difficult it is to make marriages work. But I have not in the slightest departed from my belief in those traditional institutions. Now, my argument was that radical Muslims are able to point to the moral and cultural decay of America as displayed in Hollywood and use it as a recruiting tool. That was true when I wrote it; it’s true now.

(Dinesh D’Souza interview, reformatted)

More on how Islam thrives on reaction to western decadence:

[T]here is an appeal in this kind of piety. The act of submission, when consciously chosen, can feel empowering, and even politically empowering. Anthropologists have seen these dynamics among Muslim women. In the 1990s, when young women in Java increasingly chose to wear veils, despite the harassment and mockery of others, the anthropologist Suzanne A. Brenner set out to understand why. She found that they saw themselves as activists: as people who were creating a new social order, free of the corruption of the West. They saw themselves as modern but godly. Choosing to submit to Islamic law made them feel powerful, independent and effective. It gave them a sense of control.

The anthropologist Saba Mahmood made a similar argument about newly observant women in Cairo. Their decision to wear the veil and become more observant, in a religion in which some women appeared to be subordinate, made them feel that they were involved with creating a new society, transforming it from within.

(T. M. Luhrmann)


“You went online, to use a fisherman’s expression, trolling for women, to meet and have sex with,” he said. “That seems to be part of our culture now. Meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever.”

(Judge, Dennis M. Wiley of Berrien County District Court in Michigan) I agree with the judge. I also agree with the thrust of the story: that a horny 19-year-old who believes the girl on Hot or Not is 17 should not live on a Sex Offender Registry the rest of her life because she was 14.

There are contrary arguments, but the biggest impediment to reform probably is the desire not to be soft on sex offenders.

Note, dear louts of the world, that while I don’t think this kind of white trashiness should land you on a sex offender registry the rest of your life, you may not be so lucky with a judge.


I’d say I’d been lax about blogging – if I ever had promised to blog as often as has been my custom. Instead, I’ll say:

  1. Obergefell has left me a bit speechless, although I expected it. I couldn’t really face it until it came, and I don’t want to just rant and rave now. I’m doing a lot of thinking (“deep,” I hope – certainly tactical and strategic).
  2. I’ve been cutting back on cyberspace, spending more time in time and place, as befits an embodied creature.

I’ve been hit from three source, however, with reminders that ISIS, vandals as well as murderers, might well have learned the vandalism from barbarian “Reformers” like Cromwell, Cranmer, Knox and unknown Calvinists in France (presumably  Hugenots), who favored the world with desecrations and outright destruction in England, Scotland and France (those being the three histories I’ve been reading about).

How is that materially different than what ISIS is doing to historic sites?

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.