A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Dudley Do-Right To The Rescue!

I have been having a high old time posting comments on some my favorite blogs. This practice allows me a far richer field for the exercise of pithy and compressed irony and the deflation of overblown foolishness than my own blog posting. For one thing, it's really very, very hard to deflate your own overblown foolishness, of which I have plenty. This usually requires far more self-insight and self-criticism than I am able to muster.

I can only take comfort in the fact that nobody else in the blogosphere seems to be able to generate any more self-insight and self-criticism than I can. Witness what La Shawn Barber writes, and how I reply, about her tolerance of gays:

“For instance, I don’t accept homosexuality as normal, but I’m 'tolerant' of homosexuals’ freedom to do whatever they want with whomever they want as long as they’re consenting adults. I have neither the right nor desire to force homosexuals to stop doing anything.”

Except marrying or adopting children, right?

The disingenousness of this is that Conservatism is a political movement. Politics is about making policy and laws. Policy and laws, more often than not, are about “stopping people from doing things".You are not merely a witness to your faith. You are an advocate for specific laws which ultimately set limits to the actions of those who do not believe as you do. I see no reason to hide from the essential hostility it implies to the actions of the people on the other end of the laws.

Gays are to be prevented from marrying because they are gay. Period. They are to be prevented from raising children because they are gay. Period. It would further the discussion considerably if the people who advocate these things would simply come out and admit it, rather than hiding behind the claptrap of the “sacredness” of marriage.

Insofar as that word has any meaning, only Roman Catholics and the Orthodox have the right to use it–for, dogmatically, they call marriage a “sacrament", and they call it so only in the case where both married parties have received Christian baptism. Protestants, who seem to make up at least the most vociferous segment of “social conservatism” are simply talking theological nonsense when they are defending the “sacredness” of all marriages.The issue is about being gay, and its time we all stopped evading it.

Then there is the invaluable Wretchard, over at Belmont Club, who always seems to discover the apocalyptic decline of Western Civilization in any mouse that comes out of the mountain, like the University of Colorado brouhaha over the intellectual dwarf named Ward Churchill:

"Neville Chamberlain's Foreign Minister, Lord Halifax, argued against opposing the Nazi aggression by asking "was any useful purpose served by treading on the landslide and being carried along with it"? Another Churchill, unrelated to Ward, counterargued that the danger lay entirely the other way: that capitulation mean stepping onto a "slippery slope" every bit as perilous as Halifax's metaphorical landslide; how each moment of procrastination increased the awfulness of the inevitable clash. The case, on smaller scale, describes CU's dilemma. From Hoffman's [the UC president] point of view, it is resisting Ward Churchill that is dangerous; from another standpoint it is not resisting him that constitutes the threat."

It would be nice if the poster and the commenters knew a little more about universities. University employment is a relation of contract and it is not a matter of employment at will, as in the private sector. Far before "political correctness" almost all Universities placed explicit strictures in their own internal rules about dismissing people for their opinions, no matter how odious they may be. Because of this, if the University does so, they are in the legal wrong due to breach of contract, and they will likely lose in court.

By using this issue to grandstand for political advantage (and this is all that they are doing, as any fool can see) the Republican legislators and the Governor are providing Churchill with overwhelming circumstantial evidence that his firing is for his opinions and no other reason. The University's legal well has been totally poisoned in consequence.

This has nothing to to with "leftist protection", or even with the dismissal of the man himself, and has everything to do with the irrelevant political agendas of Churchill's elected critics, who are willing to hang the University of Colorado out to dry, legally, merely to get a soundbite or a few column inches in the Rocky Mountain News. For I can assure you, from direct experience in Universities, that those same elected officials know perfectly well how a University works legally, and don't really need to be told by its President that they are hanging it out to dry.

Moreover, I think President Hoffman is far less afraid of personal lawsuits than she makes out. The limits of personal liability in such cases are well known. What she wants out of the situation is for the hullabaloo to end. Faculty have considerable collective power in a University which they are normally too distracted to use. If they get exercised enough about this, they can easily make it impossible for President Hoffman to run the place comfortably.

She is bluffing the legislators with the possiblity that they will not be able to get rid of Churchill at all and he will continue to be the thorn in Colorado's backside. This is nonsense. At this point they will pay him off one way or another, either as a settlement of his suit, or a settlement before he sues, and they will pay him far, far less than $10 million.

Then there is the action over at Centerfield: Dan Savage Getting Radical About Curbing Unsafe Sex

"Dan Savage is a gay, maverick liberal, nationally syndicated opinion columist, [and] editor-in-chief of a weekly Seattle publication called The Stranger...recently turned some heads by supporting the Bush war on terrorism, including the invasion of Iraq, arguing that the only way to prevent September 11th-like attacks on American soil is to ensure emphatically that all terrorists are dead....

"Savage writes: 'If people are looking for a truly radical step--something that might actually curb unsafe sex--I've got a suggestion....my radical plan to curb unsafe sex among gay men is modeled on a successful program that encourages sexual responsibility among straight men: child-support payments. A straight man knows that if he knocks a woman up, he's on the hook for child-support payments for 18 years. ' "

Unfortunately, in both cases, the invasion of Iraq, and preventing the spread of HIV, Mr. Savage has simply lost his mental balance and sent his brains out to lunch. No one with their head screwed on straight would contend that what we are doing in Iraq will "ensure emphaticly that all terrorists are dead", however much it may do or have done other good things.

Committed, monogamous relationships don't spread HIV, multiple sexual partners are what spread it. Marriage and paternity can both be proved definitively in court, the one by official records, the other by DNA test. STD infection cannot be so definitively proved if the infected party has had multiple partners, as he or she are likely to have had.

One of the pestilences of our time are "liberals" who have conservative conversion experiences on one selected issue or another. The blogosphere is full of them. The cognitive dissonance of operating from two different and incompatible sets of ideological principles is almost always fatal to their common sense, as in the above cases. And it is common sense that ultimately is the basis of the political compromises most "centrists" wish we could achieve.

I have to cut this out. I'm just having too much fun. After all, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has a code to uphold: a Mountie not only gets his man, he never eats peas with a knife!


Blogger Dave Schuler said...

I know how you feel in this. There was a point at which the number of column inches I devoted to comments on other peoples' blogs had risen so high that I realized I had to get my own blog.

I like both LaShawn's and Wretchard's stuff. Wretchard in particular remains on of the best prose stylists in the blogosphere. I don't agree with much of what they've got to say but I like them nonetheless.

Wretchard in particular has been a little off lately and wonder if it doesn't date back to when he opened up comments on his site. He seems to be playing to the peanut gallery a bit.

2:54 PM  

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