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    The low expectations of soft bigotry

    Cathy Young has posted a long and very, very good response to Maggie Gallagher’s guest-blog entries at the Volokh Conspiracy. Gallagher has also responded to Young. Something near the end of Gallagher’s post took me aback in a big, bad way:

    I too share your hope that we can have SSM and simultaneously figure out how to increase the likelihood that children in this country are born to and raised by their own married mom and dad.

    That first part came out of left field for me–I assume it means that Gallagher figures that SSM is inevitable, anyway, so she hopes we can make the best of the change. But she’s been saying for some time, unless I’ve read her incorrectly, that she thinks support for gay marriage has been slowly starting to wane lately. In that light, it doesn’t seem likely that she would be regarding it as an inevitable development. At the same time, while I’ve never read her as anti-gay, she can hardly mean that she’s looking forward to the advent of gay marriage. I don’t quite know what to make of that bit.

    Young is also right that Gallagher didn’t present her arguments very fluidly, but it’s hard not to sympathize with her. The crux of the pro-gay marriage argument, on the part of many of its supporters, can be delivered in a snappy sentence: “Conventional marriage isn’t always about pro-creation, and gays fall in love and want to provide for their families just like straights–what justification is there for not treating their relationships the same legally?”

    The crux of the argument against gay marriage is not as easy to put succinctly, involving as it does all the messy hormones and impulses and choices and things that are involved in taking a child through the two-decade transition into someone who’s healthy, self-reliant, and ready to assume a place in adult society. Half of the evidence involved is probably boring even to the research psychologists and demographers who generate it. But that doesn’t mean it’s illegitimate.

    Eric has also addressed–I hope I don’t sound self-infatuated linking this, since the post in question begins by citing me approvingly; I’m not really going to deal with that part–some of the issues raised during Gallagher’s guest-posting stint:

    I think this “if you disagree with me, you’re a bigot” meme has gotten really, really tired. The problem is, the more time people spend talking only with each other and not with people they disagree with, the more likely they are to be convinced that not only are they right, but that their opponents are more than wrong; they are evil, bigoted, and analogous to Nazis.

    The irony involved in reflexively dismissing people with opposing arguments as “bigots” would be delicious were it not for the fact that the practice has so coarsened public discussion of…well, just about everything. I sometimes think it should be banned, the way your ninth-grade English teacher banned the passive voice from your first few expository essays–not because it was incorrect in and of itself incorrect but because it was too easy to get lazy and overuse.

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