You know me. I love ‘em. The worse, the better.
Take the anti-same-sex-marriage stuff, for example. NRO has two perfect examples up right now: “The Future of Marriage”, signed by ‘the editors’. And Maggie Gallagher’s latest effort, “Married To Liberty?”
From the NR editors piece:
Same-sex couples will also receive the symbolic affirmation of being treated by the state as equivalent to a traditional married couple — but this spurious equality is a cost of the new laws, not a benefit. One still sometimes hears people make the allegedly “conservative” case for same-sex marriage that it will reduce promiscuity and encourage commitment among homosexuals. This prospect seems improbable, and in any case these do not strike us as important governmental goals.
Andrew Sullivan, responding:
Ponder those sentences for a moment. The fact that gay Americans may feel equal because of inclusion within their own families and societies is now a cost to society, not a benefit. Encouraging commitment, fewer partners, and greater responsibility are important governmental goals with respect to heterosexuals but not with respect to homosexuals. As far as National Review is concerned, homosexuals can go to hell. Their interests and views cannot even be accorded respect. They are non-persons to National Review: means, not ends.
Flip this around and you see what the theocon right actually believes: that society has no interest in the welfare of its gay citizens, and an abiding interest in ensuring that they remain unequal, feel unequal and suffer the consequences of a culture where family and commitment and fidelity are non-existent.
I expect a splutter of indignation at the Corner, in response. Andrew Sullivan is demonizing opponents of same-sex marriage. How can he accuse us of this truly awful stuff?
The irony is that, in fact, the editors surely don’t personally think anything so awful, although Sullivan is perfectly right that their argument makes no sense whatsoever unless they do.
What do the editors, and Gallagher, really think? The ick argument, I’ll wager. They want to stop same-sex marriage as a way of sending a message of ‘ick’ to gays, and about gays. But they also don’t want to be labeled homophobes. That is, although saying ‘gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed because I believe gay sex is icky’ is actually a less terrible argument than anything they’ve got – hey, it’s not flagrantly internally incoherent, it’s basically honest (I’ll wager), and who doesn’t believe that on some level people steer, morally, by emotional attraction-repulsion drive? – it’s considered embarrassing. (Homophobia: the yuck that dare not speak its name.) And, even if it weren’t embarrassing, it’s obviously not strong enough in the current environment. So what do you do? You end up thoughtlessly backing into something that’s frankly orders of magnitude worse than just saying gay sex is icky. Namely, gays are un-persons, so far as the state is concerned.
What makes these arguments so weird is the mildness of the underlying opposition to homosexuals and homosexuality – the implicit inclination to be basically tolerant. ‘C’mon, gays, you know you’re ok, and we know you’re ok, and you even know that we know you’re ok, but we don’t like it, so can’t there be some way that we can insist on us being a little better than you? It can be a small thing. Symbolic, but slightly inconvenient for you, so people know it’s also serious?’
I also like the sweet innocence of the assertion that “marriage is by nature the union of a man and a woman.” My very own daughter is charming in just the same way. Just the other day she was asking which boy cats the various girl cats in the neighborhood are ‘married to’. There are kittens in our neighborhood, you see.