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.
The Afterlife of “After-Birth Abortion”
Have you heard the news? There’s a movement afoot to legalize infanticide. They’re calling it “after-birth abortion.” Those disgusting liberals! This is why we need to vote the Democrats out.
I was surprised to see comments like these bouncing around the Internet this week. I’m the guy who wrote the article they’re talking about. It’s two years old. Now the right-wing echo-sphere is passing the story around as though it’s new. People think “after-birth abortion” is a real thing or a policy proposal. They don’t even read carefully enough to notice that I was criticizing it. I’m getting tweets and comments depicting me as a baby killer.
This is the Internet echo chamber at its worst. How does it happen?
The Protection of the Church
An intensely moving AP story from Carnot, a city in the Central African Republic:
The Christian militiamen know hundreds of Muslims are hiding here on the grounds of the Catholic church … The priests here in Carnot have given away all their money to try and keep the anti-Balaka [Christian militia] at bay. There are no aid groups here apart from a clinic operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders. The Catholic church, though, is pledging to continue its work here no matter what the personal risk. "For us they are not Muslims or Christians. They are people—people in danger," says the Rev. Dieu-Seni Bikowo.