When Pro-Marriage Becomes Anti-Gay
For the last week, several writers with diverse views on gay marriage—Ross Douthat, Mark Stern, Conor Friedersdorf, Henry Farrell, Rod Dreher, Damon Linker, and others—have been debating the case of Elaine and Jon Huguenin, the New Mexico photographers who were found guilty of discrimination for refusing to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony. On Friday, I joined the debate on Friedersdorf’s side, arguing that the email exchange in which Elaine Huguenin declined to photograph the ceremony showed no ill will. ...
Last night, I read the transcript. It taught me something interesting: The Huguenins might not be entirely on the same page.
The Gates Republicans
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re liberal. Certainly, Slate’s reader comments show a strong leftward tilt. Many of them express sweeping contempt for Republicans. That’s understandable, because much of the GOP has gone off the deep end. When you watch the brain-dead House Republicans vote week after week to repeal Obamacare, or the latest Tea Party nut job call President Obama a traitor, it’s hard to take Republicans seriously.
But keep an open mind. There are lots of sane people in the Republican Party. They’re just not the ones who shout and get all the air time. Here’s an illustration of the difference
The Photographer’s Story
Is everyone who opposes same-sex marriage a bigot? If a photographer declines to participate in a same-sex wedding, should she be held legally liable, on that basis alone, for discrimination?
I don’t think so. Over the past several days, I’ve been following a lively exchange on this topic between Ross Douthat of the New York Times, Mark Joseph Stern of Slate, and Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic. I like all three of these writers. I was a best man at a same-sex wedding 23 years ago, and I was a fan of gay marriage even before that. But I’m disturbed by what I see today. We’re stereotyping and vilifying opponents of gay marriage the way we’ve seen gay people stereotyped and vilified. This is a deeply personal moral issue. To get it right, we need more than justice. We need humanity.
Gay-Friendly Marriage Discrimination
This week, 20 Republican officeholders, operatives, and party officials—some past, some present—filed a legal brief endorsing same-sex marriage. The list of signers includes former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, and former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico. This isn’t just another brief for gay rights, freedom, or “marriage equality.” It reaffirms some fairly conservative ideas. Can liberals accept these ideas?
Morphing the Muslim
Last week, I wrote about the use of Muslims as bogeymen in the campaign against Arizona’s religious freedom bill. The bill would have shielded businesses from discrimination suits, as long as they were acting on religious beliefs. Everyone understood that the bill would have allowed conservative Christians to refuse services for a gay wedding. But politically, that wasn’t a strong enough argument against it. So opponents raised a different scenario: A Muslim proprietor—typically, a taxi driver—might refuse services to a woman or to a person of a different religion.
How to Control Obama
In one important respect, President Obama is a foreign-policy realist. Unlike his predecessor, he makes decisions based on what he thinks is possible or likely, given what other countries and their leaders will tolerate. In general, that’s smart. But it makes him vulnerable to manipulation. To control his calculus, all you have to do is convince him of your intolerance. The most implacable regime gets its way.
Is Kerry Right About Ukraine?
I was against John Kerry before I was for him.
When Kerry was a senator and presidential candidate, I made fun of him for qualifying every statement. We ran a series in Slate called “Kerryisms,” where we reprinted his prepositional phrases as footnotes, so you could see all the fine print. His most famous caveat was, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it."
George W. Bush had fun with Kerry, too. He joked about the senator’s fetish for “nuance.”
But sometimes, nuance is just what you need. The invasion of Ukraine –is it really an invasion?—might be one of those times.
Mobile Phones Are Moving Targets
Two years ago, when he was stuck in traffic, Peter Spriggs of Fresno, Calif., pulled out his iPhone to look for an alternative route. A cop saw him do it and ticketed him for violating section 23123(a) of the California Vehicle Code, which restricts handheld use of mobile phones. Spriggs fought the ticket, and yesterday, in the state’s 5th District Court of Appeal, he beat it. The case illustrates how hard it is for laws to keep up with technology.
The Muslim Taxi Driver
If you want to kill legislation that protects the right of Christians to withhold business services from same-sex couples, here’s one way to do it: Don’t warn people about Christians. Warn them about Muslims.
That strategy was on display in the campaign against Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would have shielded businesses from discrimination suits if they acted on religious beliefs. Everyone understood that the bill would have allowed conservative Christians to refuse services for a gay wedding. But in Arizona, that wasn’t a strong enough argument against it. So opponents went for the Muslim angle.
Can Creationists Be Scientists? Readers Respond.
This month, I’ve written a few posts defending the idea that you can believe in young-earth creationism—a complete fiction—and still practice good science. Most readers who responded to these articles disagreed. I’ve read more than a thousand of your comments, looking for insights that can help us think more clearly about this question. Some of what you’ve written requires me to amend or clarify what I’ve said. Some of it, however, should prompt reflection among those of you who say science and creationism are incompatible.