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Reality-based conservatism - Input Junkie
June 30th, 2011
04:36 am

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Reality-based conservatism
David Frum concludes that same sex marriage doesn't damage heterosexual marriage.

Is there anything else in American politics which is dependent on as weak an argument as opposition to same sex marriage? The war on drugs is based on a wild over-estimation of government power, but it doesn't quite have that weird "I'll make up a definition and insist that it's realer than what can be observed" quality.

Link thanks to nwhyte.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/487066.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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From:arashinomoui
Date:June 30th, 2011 10:05 am (UTC)
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Laffer-curve based economic policy?
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From:nancylebov
Date:June 30th, 2011 11:13 am (UTC)
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The Laffer curve doesn't seem as crazy to me, but maybe I'm missing something. The messy thing about the Laffer curve is that it seems like it's hard to say where you are on it.
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From:richardthinks
Date:June 30th, 2011 11:53 am (UTC)
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I am reluctant to pursue your question for I fear it will lead me into insanity, or at least render me even less fit for American life. I feel OK about deconstructing categories like "liberal" and "conservative", but once you get me going on what electoral politics actually means, and the terms of public debate, and prisons and trial by jury and state-by-state moral legislation and all that, I won't know how to stop.

My 9 year old son doesn't like gay marriage. If he ruled the world he would disallow it. I have no idea why, his total argument is "it's just wrong." That's what I think we're up against here. I think the appeal of this particular argument is that it seems irrefutable, but only contingently. That is, it seems like we ought to be able to find out if it's true, but not unambiguously. We can demonstrate that gay marriage doesn't sour the milk, so that's no good. And we think we know already that it won't be possible to tell if it damages your immortal soul, so that's a big chunk of the electorate not mystified there, but threatening to do something mysterious but bad to a common social institution? That's like, well, maybe, y'know? cf arguments about the evils of socialized housing projects.
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From:richardthinks
Date:June 30th, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
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...ie it's perfect food for FUD, of the kind that psychologists and sociologists can be employed to spread. Which makes me wonder if there's a link between your previous post and this one.
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From:nancylebov
Date:June 30th, 2011 12:15 pm (UTC)
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Not a strong link, except that both aren't far off from the way I usually think about things. They may be more vehement than usual because I'm in a bad mood.

I hope to return to the more usual mixture of cheering videos and political outrage.
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From:madfilkentist
Date:June 30th, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC)
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A while back, at least 10 years ago, there was a bill in the NH legislature against same-sex marriage, and the argumentation in the bill said outright that the purpose of marriage was to breed new taxpayers, so infertile marriages were contrary to proper marriage. The bill went nowhere. It didn't say anything about infertile opposite-sex marriages.

I don't know whether that's a widespread motive for opposition to same-sex marriage, but I don't think so. With most opponents, I think the basic motive is that they're convinced that homosexuality is evil, and legalizing same-sex marriage legitimizes it. Yet there's much more talk about "defense of marriage" than about the evil of leading people down the slippery slope of sodomy. I really don't understand why that is, since the latter argument would seem to be more effective if anything.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 30th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC)
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At a trivial level I think people are misusing Kant's categorical imperative - if everyone got same sex marriages the human race would go extinct, therefore same sex marriages must be bad. Silly argument, which is why few people make it explicitly.

I hear a fair bit in my O community about same sex marriage being part of the 'homosexual agenda'. Of course, that agenda allegedly includes promiscuity of exactly the sort that marriage is meant to limit. Also, as someone pointed out, in politicly conservative Jewish circles 'gay activists' seem to be as powerful as 'the Jews' are in anti-Semitic circles.
From:llennhoff
Date:June 30th, 2011 01:29 pm (UTC)
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At a trivial level I think people are misusing Kant's categorical imperative - if everyone got same sex marriages the human race would go extinct, therefore same sex marriages must be bad. Silly argument, which is why few people make it explicitly.

I hear a fair bit in my O community about same sex marriage being part of the 'homosexual agenda'. Of course, that agenda allegedly includes promiscuity of exactly the sort that marriage is meant to limit. Also, as someone pointed out, in politicly conservative Jewish circles 'gay activists' seem to be as powerful as 'the Jews' are in anti-Semitic circles.
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From:theweaselking
Date:June 30th, 2011 02:13 pm (UTC)
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Arguing that sodomy is wrong inherently requires making a RELIGIOUS argument for law, which means you begin your argument by admitting you're wrong on First Amendment grounds.

So they don't do that. The argument is still reilgious, and it's still wrong for the same reasons, but now it's got a patina of legitimacy. Like "intelligent design" rather than "creationism".
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From:whswhs
Date:June 30th, 2011 02:14 pm (UTC)
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Conservatism isn't so much an argument as an attitude. Arguing is much more the style of liberals and of libertarians . . . and, I suppose, of Marxists, but there's not really a live Marxist tradition in the United States.
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From:richardthinks
Date:June 30th, 2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
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I was at a conference with them last month!

Oh, you don't mean academic Marxists? Yeah, the 80s pretty much did for the rest of them.
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From:heron61
Date:June 30th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
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There are two obvious ones that are also conservative bastions and also provably incorrect:

Global climate change is not real &/or is not caused by human activity

Private healthcare is more efficient, cheaper, and more effective than state-sponsored or controlled healthcare.

A wealth of hard data exists about both, and the conclusions are quite clear.
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From:whswhs
Date:July 1st, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
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Can you point to a document that sets out the scientific evidence for global warming, fair and square with no contradictions, in a rigorous manner? I haven't been convinced by it, but what I've seen is popularizations and appeals to the Authority of Science; that's not a proper basis for judging whether the science makes sense.
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From:whswhs
Date:July 3rd, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
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Just as a minor note, by the way, there cannot possibly be hard data about free market health care, because there is no developed country with free market health care. The United States has a huge share of health care provided through Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA, and most of the rest is provided through prepaid group care places that receive massive government subsidies through tax expenditures, and that are also sheltered from competition by state-level regulation of health insurance. That's not remotely what libertarians like me want; we're in favor of changes in American health care roughly as radical as going over to the Canadian approach would be. I understand that this is not what you would want, but if we were going to debate it (which I don't propose to do here), it would have to be on theoretical grounds, because there simply are no observational data on free market systems for you to appeal to.
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