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You Can Take the Professor Out of the University, but...

I've had to sit on this, from Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, for a day to figure out how to say anything about it at all:

THE POPE: WRONG AGAIN! First the war, now gay marriage.

It's offensive and dismissive on multiple levels: to Catholics, to those who oppose gay marriage in good faith, as well as to those who value reasoned debate.

There's simply no intellectual content to it. None. Even at first glance, it implies a thoughtless fallacy that one needn't know anything about the gay marriage debate nor Catholicism to comprehend: being incorrect about one matter does not rest the case about one's correctness on a completely different matter. Indeed, as a Catholic who believes that the Vatican got the Iraq war wrong, I can testify that there was argument about the application of Catholic tradition and beliefs in that matter; in the case of gay marriage, there can be none. One wonders whether law professor Reynolds agrees with the Democrats who, it is arguable, take the position that believing Catholics are unsuitable for judicial positions. After all, in the document about gay marriage, the Vatican merely restates the long-standing Catholic position.

I can't express how disappointed I am, not the least because the insult doesn't come within a context of discussion; Reynolds has never, that I've seen, articulated his reasons for supporting gay marriage more thoroughly than, "I have gay friends who are, for all practical purposes, married. I don't see why barring them from going to the courthouse benefits anyone." Quite to the contrary, the context in which the quip comes is as the third instance of unexplained slights at the Vatican and Catholicism in recent memory, following one involving an accusation of anti-Semitism and another that covered the core of Christian belief, and I have to admit that I can no longer see much room for the distinction he's tried to make between slurring the Pope and slurring Catholics.

More than the personal affront, I'm disappointed that the famous Instapundit would think such a thing worthy of presentation to his thousands upon thousands of readers. This is the stuff of faculty lounge jeers, not for public pronouncement. Would Reynolds want his Catholic — or just fair-minded — readers to conclude that his error in this case taints his entire body of work?

He might suggest that those who would react thus are free to take their "eyeballs" elsewhere. Such a retort would be correct, as far as it goes, but it would also be an assertion of personal leverage of the sort that many readers have sought alternative media in order to avoid.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 03:55 PM EST

1 Comment


When I read comments such as these...

"I don't see that gay marriage diminishes marriage, any more than the many Jerry-Springer types who are allowed to get married now diminish marriage. I have gay friends who are, for all practical purposes, married. I don't see why barring them from going to the courthouse benefits anyone."

... I frequently think of a comment made by G.K. Chesterton:

"The more modern type of reformer goes gaily [!]up to it and says, 'I don't see the use of this; let's clear it away'. To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: 'If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.'"

Throughout my life I have seen the damage done by the thoughtless attacks on traditional institutions and mores by people who "didn't see the use" for them. I fear the same will now happen to the traditional notion of marriage.

The results will be predictably disastrous.

Tom Connelly @ 08/02/2003 02:08 PM EST